There were major developments Tuesday in the federal case involving former jailers.
Ryan Teel and three other defendants are charged in connection with alleged abuse at the Harrison County Jail. Teel is accused of assaulting Jessie Lee Williams, the inmate who later died following the alleged beating.
Defendants Ryan Teel, Rick Gaston, Daniel Evans and Karl Stolze all attended the two hour hearing, accompanied by their attorneys. The four will be tried together, but Judge Louis Guirola did grant Teel's motion to move the trial elsewhere.
"Judge Guirola is a fair judge. And I think he just wants to make sure that all the defendants get a fair trial. And he even pointed out that's paramount in his rulings and decisions. So, that was a good ruling," Teel's Attorney, Jim Davis, said.
Attorneys for defendants Evans and Stolze had argued for a continuance, citing the mountain of potential evidence in the case: more than a half million documents. That motion was declined; the trial remains set for August 6th.
"I really thought that given the volume and complexity of the case, the number of co defendants, that the court would consider and grant a continuance. I really am surprised we did not get it," Stolze's Attorney, Arthur Carlisle, said.
"Nights and weekends. We're still going through it right now. There's just hundreds of thousands of pages of documents we have to look at. And parts that the government seems are important and not necessarily the ones we find important," Evans' Attorney, Cecil Woods, said.
In agreeing to move this trial, Judge Guirola not only mentioned ongoing media coverage, he also referenced publicity generated by the pending civil lawsuit. He also made mention of the ten candidates running for Harrison County sheriff, many of whom have made improving jail conditions a campaign platform.
Ryan Teel's attorney says the decision to move the trial is more than appropriate, given the attention this case is getting.
"A prospective juror would have those opinions branded on them before they even showed up to try the case," Davis said.
Judge Guirola promised an announcement soon on where the trial will take place. He says it will stay within the district. That means the trial will be moved to either Jackson, Natchez or Hattiesburg.