Judge denies accused WNC killer motion to move trial out of Henderson Co.

Phillip Michael Stroupe II (Source: TCSO)

A Superior Court judge denied accused killer Philip Michael Stroupe II's motion to move his first degree murder trial out of Henderson County.

Stroupe's lawyers argued that excessive pre-trial publicity will make it all but impossible for Stroupe to receive a fair trial locally.

District Attorney Greg Newman said he believes they can seat an impartial jury in the case.“There is no requirement that prospective jurors come to court uninformed about the things taking place in their community,” said Newman. “The question is whether they can set aside the things they have read, seen, or heard about the case and base a decision of guilt or innocence on the evidence presented in the trial. Some will be able to do that while others may not. We will not know, however, until we bring in the prospective jurors into court and ask them these questions."Defense lawyers offered results of a telephone poll from 407 Henderson County residents. They said, only 17 percent of the persons polled knew anything about the case and 61 percent knew nothing about the case.

The judge did grant the defense motion to continue the trial from the current date of July 23, 2018.

Defense lawyers argued for additional time of anywhere from 18-24 months, saying they needed more time to prepare. The judge allowed the continuance and directed the district attorney to not reschedule the trial before January 28, 2019.

A new trial date will be announced in the next few days.

Stroupe is accused of killing 68-year-old Thomas Andrew Bryson near his home in Millls River on July 26, while Stroupe was on the run from law enforcement in Transylvania County.

He was captured in McDowell County on July 27 after a chase in Bryson's vehicle.

RELATED COVERAGE: DA plans to pursue death penalty after Stroupe indicted for murder; Stroupe Sr.'s request for reduced bond denied

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