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News >  Idaho

Judge denies change of venue in UI murder trial

Associated Press

MOSCOW, Idaho — A judge has denied a change of venue for the trial of three Washington men accused of killing a University of Idaho football player.

Second District Judge John Bradbury also refused to give additional public money to pay for another attorney for defendant Matthew R. Wells II, 27.

Latah County Public Defender Charles Kovis filed both motions, which the judge ruled on Friday.

Eric McMillan, 19, was shot Sept. 19, 2004, at his off-campus apartment in Moscow. Authorities said no motive has been established.

Wells, his brother James J. Wells, 25, both of Seattle, and their nephew, Thomas J. Riggins, 23, of Kent, Wash., are charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy. Their trial is set for May 23.

Six others, most of them family members, including the Wellses’ father and brothers, have been charged with perjury before a grand jury. Judge John R. Stegner of Moscow is overseeing their trials, which are set for May and June.

Kovis and Moscow attorney Tim Gresback contended the case was complicated enough to require at least two attorneys to represent Matthew Wells.

Bradbury said Kovis was “amply able” to handle the case.

As for the change-of-venue motion, Bradbury said that while the case has attracted substantial publicity, that alone is not grounds for moving a trial.

“Mr. Wells has not pointed out, nor have I found, any articles that are inflammatory, incorrect, inaccurate, or that report on evidence that will likely be inadmissible at trial,” Bradbury said.

“I am confident that the pretrial publicity up to this point has not caused substantial prejudice in the community that will prevent Mr. Wells from receiving a fair trial,” he said.

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