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Change of venue denied, rules set for public in La Harpe murder trial

A pretrial hearing for the murder trial of Antonio Sanchez took place Tuesday at the Hancock County Courthouse in Carthage, Illinois.

Sanchez is accused of killing Maddie Finch in La Harpe, Illinois, on New Year’s Day.

The judge denied the defense request to move the trial to Quincy.

Defense Attorney Drew Schnack wanted to move the trial because of past outbursts and the matching shirts that friends and family were wearing during previous court appearances. He suggested that the Adams County Courthouse in Quincy was a better venue because it had a separate room with a two-way mirror and speaker system that would allow the family of the victim or those prone to emotional outbursts to view and hear the trial without disrupting it.

The judge denied that request venue saying the court and sheriff’s office can work together to prevent outbursts, distractions and other confrontations. 

However, the judge did ban supporters from wearing purple “Justice for Maddie” shirts and said people will be kicked out of the courtroom and not allowed to view the trial if they make an outburst. The judge also said the jury entrance will be separate from the public.

Finally the judge moved the trial back 60 days to allow DNA testing to be done and give prosecutors more time to review evidence. The state’s attorneys office said the lab has made this case a priority and all work will be done before trial.

Schnack’s discovery motion was denied. He felt he was getting documents later than normal and said the state was policing the information. The judge said it was within the current time frame but asked the state to move a little quicker to hand over completed documents.

"The judge gave me a lot of what we wanted," said Schnack. "The jurors and public will come from separate entrances. The t-shirts are out, the buttons are out. It’s not a cheering section, from that standpoint, it was good. I was very disapointed that this will not be tried in July. We are ready to go, he’s in jail. I don’t care what you say, four months without doing anything with DNA is ridiculous."

A pre-trial date is set tentatively for August 13 but both sides still need to work on a trial date for September over a conference call.

The state’s attorneys office denied to comment on the case.

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