A man accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering a Jamestown, N.Y., mother of three in May 1988 won a partial victory Thursday in a bid to have his trial moved.
President Judge Robert L. Wolfe of the Warren County Court of Common Pleas tentatively agreed to grant a change of venire in the trial of Jay W. Buckley, 38, also of Jamestown, who is charged with kidnap, rape and murder.
He is accused of slaying Kathy Wilson, 34, whose skeletal remains were found in September 1989 in a remote area near Lander. She had been missing for a year and a half.
Buckley had sought a change of venue, which would have moved the trial from Warren County. Under a change of venire a jury will be empaneled in another county and moved to Warren County to hear the case.
It may be at least April before Buckley's trial is held, court officials said Thursday.
Buckley's attorney, Barry L. Smith, pointing to widespread publicity in the case, asked for the change of venue, which was opposed by District Attorney Joseph Massa Jr.
Smith, however, said he would be satisfied with a change of venire. The judge said he would consider Massa's opinion on the issue before delivering a formal ruling on the change of venire.
Wolfe also said he also is concerned the court might "struggle" to seat a jury, and noted that his refusal to grant the change of venire could be the basis of an appeal if Buckley is convicted.
Massa said that while a change of venire is better than a change of venue, he would prefer the jury be from Warren County.
"The crime was committed in Warren County," Massa said. "Warren County taxpayers will bear the cost and I believe the jury should be empaneled in Warren County."
Massa characterized media coverage as "factual -- not sensational." Wolfe, however, agreed with Smith that publicity had been extensive in Warren County and Buckley's criminal record was publicized.
He also said there had been more publicity in Mrs. Wilson's disappearance and Buckley's arrest than in any other local case he could recall.
Massa did not object to two other motions by Smith -- for a psychiatric evaluation and that the defense be allowed to have an expert witness on hair samples that were found in the victim's van.
An FBI expert testified at Buckley's preliminary hearing the samples are consistent with Buckley's hair.