Hit-and-run trial changes venue

Jury selection started on Tuesday

Posted: Wednesday, January 19, 2000

The trial of accused hit-and-run driver Joel Taplin has been moved to Ketchikan and is expected to start today.

Taplin, a New England resident, is accused of causing the death of Juneau biologist Richard Carlson when he struck first Carlson's truck and then him in July on Mendenhall Loop Road.

The decision to change venue was made about 5 p.m. Friday, said Judge Patricia Collins' Juneau office.

District Attorney Rick Svobodny, speaking from Ketchikan, said Collins found there were about seven or eight things reported about the case that weren't facts.

``The majority of (potential Juneau jurors) had read about them. No matter how honest people responded that they could set things aside, she did not believe they could set these things aside. And so she moved the trial,'' said Svobodny, who is prosecuting the case.

Collins, Svobodny, and defense attorneys Louis Menendez and Thomas Nave flew to Ketchikan over the weekend. Taplin left the Lemon Creek Correctional Center Friday night after the ruling came out, said prison Assistant Superintendent Gary Kidd. Taplin is now housed at the Ketchikan Correctional Center.

The trial is scheduled to take five days.

The selection of jurors began Tuesday morning and is expected to conclude before noon today, Collins said.

``We will finish jury selection this morning and then start the trial,'' said Collins. ``Beyond that, ethics prevent me from commenting.''

Calls to Menendez and Nave were not returned.

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