NEWPORT (WATE) - The attorney for Jeffrey Lee Stock, charged with murdering 19-year-old Megan Maxwell, says he wants his client's trial to be moved out of the area.
Attorney Keith Haas says the case has gotten a lot of media coverage. In fact, he even read out viewer comments posted on web stories by 6 News to make his point to a Cocke County judge Wednesday afternoon.
Maxwell went missing in April 2009. From the searches, to the vigils, and finally the discovery of her body in November 2010, the story has received extensive coverage.
Stock is charged with rape, theft, arson and murder in the case. Stock's father, Terry Stock, is charged with being an accessory after the murder.
In court, Haas said because of all the publicity, locals associate the Maxwell case with Jeffrey Stock, making it impossible for him to get an unbiased jury.
"Why don't we hang these two pieces of trash along with all the other pieces of trash?" said Haas as he read a 6 News viewer comment in court. It referred to Stock and his father.
Our online system of the public being able to like or dislike a viewer comment, he says, showed further proof of how biased the public is against Stock.
"And when you have these comments, you can check off whether you agree or disagree with them or not. You can put a plus or a minus. All the comments that are derogatory to Jeff and his family have big pluses on them," Haas explained in court.
But Lisa Maxwell, Megan's mom, has worked extra hard to keep her daughter's story in the media. For months she's worn and given out pins that say "Justice for Megan," all to ensure her daughter's story is not forgotten.
"The important part is to keep the case in Newport where Megan was known," Lisa Maxwell said.
But Haas feels all the attention the case has gotten causes a lot of people to already convict Stock of murder. "It taints the jury pool," Haas said.
6 News asked Lisa Maxwell if she felt Stock would get a fair trial in Cocke County. "Honestly, I can't answer that," she said.
The judge has not made a decision on whether to move the trial. He says either way, the court will ensure that Stock gets the most unbiased jury.