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Glynn judge sets trial in boy's slaying

Jury to be picked from Jeff Davis County

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POSTED: February 6, 2009 12:25 p.m.
BRUNSWICK - A judge refused to relocate the death penalty trial of a man charged in the sexual assault and murder of a 6-year-old Brunswick boy, but agreed to pick a jury from a county 90 miles away.

David Edenfield, 59, is scheduled to stand trial May 4 for the slaying of Christopher Michael Barrios, whose body was found wrapped in a trash bag by a roadside a week after he went missing from a mobile home park in March 2007.

Edenfield will be the first of three suspects to be tried in the slaying. His adult son, George Edenfield, and wife, Peggy Edenfield, have also been charged in the case.

Attorneys for David Edenfield on Thursday asked the Glynn County judge to move the trial to the middle part of Georgia because "unprecedented news media coverage" of the slaying had made it impossible for Edenfield to have a fair trial on the coast.

"As we move closer to trial, you have to believe you will have such a media frenzy and circus-like atmosphere that the (jurors) will be tainted," said defense attorney James Yancey Jr.

Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett ruled the trial will stay in Brunswick, but he decided to select the jury in Hazelhurst, located in rural Jeff Davis County 90 miles to the northwest.

The judge scheduled jury selection to being April 20. Jurors would then travel to Brunswick for what could be a lengthy trial. District Attorney Stephen Kelley said he expected prosecutors would need a week to present their case, followed by Edenfield's defense.

Prosecutors say the Edenfields, who lived across the street from Christopher's grandmother, lured the boy into their mobile home March 8, 2007. They say David and George Edenfield took turns sexually assaulting the boy before choking him to death. Peggy Edenfield is accused of watching them do it.

She avoided a possible death sentence by agreeing to testify against her husband and son, in exchange for prosecutors seeking a life sentence.

Kelley said bringing outside jurors to Brunswick and paying for them to stay in hotels would be less expensive than moving the trial to another city.

"The problem with that is the local people don't get to see the trial and you've got to pay the motel bills for tons of witnesses, court personnel, bailiffs and sheriff's deputies," Kelley said. "The juries in most death penalty cases are sequestered, so you've got to pay hotel costs for the jury anyway."

Kelley said judges have imported a jury, rather than moved the trial, in several other cases his office has prosecuted.

George Edenfield, a convicted child molester, still faces civil proceedings to determine if he's mentally competent to stand trial for the boy's slaying. Peggy Edenfield faces an automatic life sentence and, if convicted, would have to serve 30 years in prison before she was eligible for parole.


 

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