A man accused of killing a police officer in Washington state is asking a judge to move his trial out of county where the officer worked and was fatally shot last year.
In a motion filed last week in Snohomish County Superior Court, Richard Rotter’s public defender argued an outpouring of support at a memorial for Everett Police Officer Dan Rocha and the large amount of news coverage surrounding the case could prejudice jurors in the county, The Daily Herald reported.
“Mr. Rotter cannot receive a fair and impartial jury in this county given the inflammatory pretrial publicity this case has received,” the defendant’s attorney, Daniel Snyder, wrote in court documents.
State court rules allow for trials to be moved when a defendant “believes he cannot receive a fair trial in the county where the action is pending.”
Prosecutor Craig Matheson declined to comment to the newspaper on the motion. Prosecutors plan to file a response in the next couple weeks.
Rotter, 51, has pleaded not guilty to murder, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture or deliver in connection with Rocha’s death.
The motion doesn’t say where the defense would like the trial moved. Snyder couldn’t be reached for comment by the newspaper.
Authorities said Rocha was shot in the head after he and Rotter got into an altercation in the parking lot of a Starbucks in Everett on March 25, 2022. The shooter fled in a car. Police arrested Rotter, of Kennewick, following a three-vehicle crash nearby.
Prosecutors alleged Rotter appeared to be moving guns between two cars in the parking lot before Rocha confronted him.
Rotter’s trial is set for mid-March.
A hearing is set for Feb. 17 to discuss the issue. Rotter remains in the Snohomish County Jail on a no bail hold.