About 75% of the prospective jurors in the trial of a man accused of murdering Polly Klaas think he is guilty, a defense lawyer said in a new request to change the site of the trial.
About 60% of those who think Richard Allen Davis is guilty also said they could not set aside their opinions if asked to serve on a jury in his murder trial, Deputy Public Defender Barry Collins said.
Collins presented the survey results, based on questionnaires filled out by 300 prospective jurors, as part of a surprise request Monday to reopen hearings on whether the trial should be moved out of Sonoma County.
Collins withdrew a motion for a change of venue in February.
Superior Court Judge Lawrence Antolini rejected the defense’s request, saying it should be postponed until prospective jurors have been interviewed in person by prosecution and defense lawyers.
Antolini said the questionnaires by themselves are not enough to determine whether Davis can get a fair trial in the county where the 12-year-old’s body was found after a high-publicity search in 1993.
Juror interviews are to begin Aug. 14.
Antolini also reprimanded Collins and co-counsel Lorena Chandler for shipping juror questionnaires to the Florida International University in Miami so psychology professor Gary Moran could prepare the survey.
“How can I look the jurors in the eye when they come in, and tell them their questionnaires are confidential?” Antolini said. “This is a violation of an order of the court. I don’t know who this person is.”
Polly was taken from her family’s home in Petaluma, about 45 miles north of San Francisco, in October, 1993, and found dead two months later beside U.S. 101 in Cloverdale, about 50 miles north of Petaluma.