BENTON, La. – (KTAL/KMSS) Although the former Bossier Parish elementary school teacher accused of sexually molesting children was in Bossier District Court today to ask for a change of venue for jury selection, the hearing was postponed until July,
Aubrey Norcross, who taught at Benton Elementary School until his Oct. 17, 2018 arrest, is charged with one count of First-Degree Rape, eight counts of molestation of a juvenile, two counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and one count of video voyeurism.
Today’s hearing was set to argue a Motion for Change of Venue, submitted by Randal Fish, Norcross’ defense attorney on March 14.
The motion alleges it would be impossible to find an unbiased jury due to vast media coverage of Norcross’ arrest and subsequent charges after his arrest. Within its 92 pages, are numerous copies of stories that appeared in local newspapers, as well as on local television and radio and their websites and social media.
In addition, subpoenas for today’s hearing were issued for representatives from each local media outlet, as well as the Bossier Parish Sheriff, whose office sent press releases regarding Norcross’ arrest and charges.
However, all will have to wait until July 23, when the jury selection conference is scheduled, prior to the September 9, 2019 trial date.
An additional defense motion, submitted on March 29, asks for a unanimous jury decision for conviction. Until November 2018, Louisiana was one of only two states that only required a 10-2 vote to convict of crimes with a mandatory sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole, probation or suspension of sentence
But on Nov. 6, 2018, Louisiana voters approved a state constitutional amendment requiring unanimous juries for all felony crimes charged after Jan. 1, 2019, ending 138 years of Jim-Crow era law.
However, any crimes charged prior to Jan. 1, remain under the previous law, meaning only a 10-2 jury is needed to be mandatorily sentenced of life in prison without possibility of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.
This motion, along with others that may be submitted in the meantime, will be argued on May 21.