By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Judge Richard Brosey said most potential jurors don’t read the news as much as some lawyers seem to think when he denied a motion that John A. Booth Jr.’s upcoming triple-murder trial be moved out of Lewis County.
Roger Hunko, attorney for Booth, had asked that his client’s trial be changed to a different venue because of so much pre-trial publicity by the news media.
Brosey on Friday denied the motion, although he noted it could be revisited if attorneys encounter difficulties during jury selection.
“There was no waving of the bloody shirt” by the news media, Brosey said, noting he thought most reporting was on the basic facts.
Booth is scheduled to be tried starting Monday in Lewis County Superior Court in Chehalis.
The 32-year-old former Onalaskan is charged with murder and other offenses related to the August 2010 gunshot deaths of two men and a teenage boy inside a Salkum-Onalaska area home. Booth is also charged with attempted murder a woman in the same house the same night.
Hunko and Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher went before the judge on Friday, to finalize details for next week’s trial.
Hunko made a motion to dismiss the attempted extortion charge, saying most of the evidence was circumstantial. Brosey denied the motion.
The judge also denied Hunko’s request for a lengthy questionnaire to be given to potential jurors.
Brosey did say he would make accommodations to ensure a fair trial such as bringing in a larger than usual group of potential jurors. He’s asked that as many as 160 people are available, he said.
Meagher told the judge he has lined up 23 witnesses. The judge said he thought the trial might last a week to 10 days.
Prosecutors allege Booth and Ryan J. McCarthy visited the house on Wings Way in connection with collecting money for drug debts or a “perceived” debt owed to Robert “Robbie” S. Russell. One of the victims, David West Sr. 52, was a witness in a pending case against Russell.
Also shot dead were David West Jr., 16, and a friend Tony E. Williams, 50, of Randle. Denise Salts, then 51, survived a gunshot wound to her face.
McCarthy was sentenced late last month to a little more than 14 years following a plea deal. He denies being guilty of the crimes he pleaded guilty to.
Booth’s defense, according to documents in the court file, include general denial,and self defense / defense of others.
Read most recent story, “Court hearing reveals more details about Salkum triple slaying” from Saturday Oct. 1, 2011, here