A judge denied a request for an out-of-county trial for a man charged with rape and assault in the attack of a woman in her Greenwood home.
Instead, jurors from another county will come to the courthouse in downtown Franklin to hear the case of the brutal rape of a woman at knifepoint in the Ashmore Trace Apartments.
Shawn L. Corbally, 34, is charged with four counts of rape, five counts of criminal deviate sexual conduct, two counts of criminal confinement, and one count each of burglary, intimidation, attempted residential entry and failure to register as a sex offender.
His trial had been slated to start next week but will be delayed until Feb. 25, Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper said. Johnson Circuit Court will need time to arrange to bring in jurors from Monroe County for the trial.
That arrangement is expected to add to the cost of the trial, because jurors would have to be reimbursed for their travel or ferried in a chartered bus. Johnson County also might have to pay to put them up in a motel if the court decides jurors should be sequestered during the trial.
At a Monday hearing, Johnson Circuit Judge Mark Lloyd denied a request to move the trial to another county but decided to bring in jurors from a nearby county where the case hadn’t received as much media coverage.
Corbally’s court-appointed attorneys, Carrie Miles and Michael Bohn, requested the change of venue. Miles said they wanted to ensure a fair trial with jurors who had not been exposed to information that’s inadmissible in court, such as criminal record.
“We hope that it will ensure a fair trial,” Miles said. “We’ll know during the actual selection process.”
Miles and Bohn plan to take special precautions in this case to ensure that jurors aren’t biased by anything they’ve read or heard. During jury selection, they’ll ask potential jurors what they know about the case in private, written questionnaires so that no one says anything that might prejudice other potential jurors.
“Our hope is they will be impartial,” she said. “Two counties away, the media coverage will not be an issue.”
At Monday’s hearing, Cooper opposed the request to move the trial to another county because of the inconvenience, especially for the victim.
“As a practical matter, we’d have to have the witnesses leave Johnson County and travel, and that’s a pain to coordinate,” he said. “Having it here puts less of a burden on the witnesses, including the victim, who shouldn’t have to travel. The victim’s already been through enough and already has enough to go through. She shouldn’t have to travel.”
Moving the trial also would add greatly to the cost and be inconvenient for prosecutors, who would have to travel an hour each way instead of up the street, Cooper said.
The prosecutor’s office tries whenever possible to keep local cases in Johnson County, Cooper said. Key players, including defense attorneys, are more familiar with the setting, judges and procedures, he said.
Cooper didn’t object to the proposal to bring in jurors from Monroe County.
The case had gotten a significant amount of media attention, and a lot of it focused on Corbally’s criminal record, which isn’t admissible in court, Cooper said.
Corbally had been convicted of two charges of rape but was released from prison after serving less than half of a 25-year sentence because of credit for good behavior, classes and counseling.
He had been arrested for another sexual assault after a woman reported being groped in her Indianapolis apartment’s laundry room a week before the Greenwood attack, but he was released after the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office didn’t file charges.
Monroe County is far enough away that potential jurors weren’t exposed to as much media coverage but close enough that they could travel to Franklin in less than an hour, Cooper said.
The court will have to determine whether they’ll have to drive themselves, take a chartered bus and stay at local motels or go home after hearing courtroom testimony, Cooper said.