Judge won’t move trial of 2 charged in Currin case
Posted: Friday, August 22, 2008 9:37 pm
CLINTON, Ky. (AP) — A judge in western Kentucky has refused to move the trial of two defendants charged in the death of a teenage mother in 2000. Jeffery Burton and Tamara Caldwell will go on trial in Hickman County, Ky., on Sept. 29. Their attorneys had asked Graves (County) Circuit Judge Tim Stark to move the trial to Graves County, Ky., and have jurors brought in from a nearby county, The Paducah Sun reported. Prosecutors said the trial should stay in Hickman County. Stark said in an order signed Tuesday that the court should first attempt to seat a jury in Clinton, Ky. “It is incumbent on the court, under the spirit of the statute, to at least attempt to seat a jury before considering a further change of venue,” Stark wrote in an order issued Tuesday. Stark had moved the trial from Graves County — where the burned body of 18-year-old Jessica Currin was found in 2000 — to Christian County, Ky. He moved the trial again to Hickman County after attorneys said some witnesses would have too far to travel. Burton, of West Paducah, Ky., and Caldwell, of Mayfield, Ky., were two of five people charged last year in Currin’s death. Two others pleaded guilty to lesser charges and a third, Quincy Omar Cross of Tiptonville, was convicted in April of kidnapping, raping and murdering Currin. He was sentenced in May to life in prison with no chance for parole. Burton and Caldwell face the death penalty. It took nearly 10 days to seat a jury in Cross’ trial. Witnesses testified during the trial that Currin called out the name of her infant son, Zion, before she died. The boy has been raised by Currin’s parents, according to testimony. Burton’s attorney, Mark Bryant, expressed concern in court papers over the county’s small population of 4,800 and comments Stark made during the Cross jury selection about the difficulty of seating that jury. Former Hickman (County) Circuit Clerk Carolyn Kimbell also said in an affidavit that she believes it would be difficult to find an unbiased Hickman County jury. That affidavit was attached to the motion to move the trial. Stark has issued a gag order on the Currin murder case, prohibiting attorneys from commenting outside of court. After Currin’s body was found, investigators focused on Currin’s ex-boyfriend, but charges against him were dismissed in 2003. The investigation languished for years until the state attorney general’s office took up the case in 2006, at the urging of Currin’s father. Two others originally charged in the case, Victoria Caldwell and Vinisha Stubblefield, both of Mayfield, pleaded guilty to evidence tampering and abuse of a corpse and testified against Cross at his trial.