Defense wants trial moved in Niles case
NILES — Attorneys for Ryan M. Daniels Sr., set to go to trial Nov. 12 and accused of accidentally shooting a Niles woman to death outside of a Niles tavern, is citing pretrial publicity in asking that the trial be moved outside of Trumbull County.
The filing states “extensive and prejudicial media coverage has tainted the jury pool, thereby making it impossible for the defendant to receive a fair and impartial trial.”
Attorney John Juhasz filed the motion and several others this week in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
Daniels, 29, of Bonnie Brae Avenue SE, was charged after police say he accidentally discharged his handgun, which was in his hand when he twice slapped the front passenger window of the car of Britney Mazanec, 33, of Niles, as she drove out of the parking lot of the Hideaway Lounge on Youngstown Road in February.
Daniels said he was slapping the window to get Mazanec’s attention after her car “brushed” him while in motion. Daniels said the contact came while he was “leaned over to help” after seeing females in an altercation.
Daniels faces charges of reckless homicide, involuntary manslaughter and possessing a firearm in a liquor permit business. If convicted, he could get nine years in prison.
The filing focuses heavily on the comments made by readers on local television station web sites and Facebook. The 13-page filing includes another six pages of news articles about the case and 78 additional pages showing readers’ commentary about it.
One Facebook post shortly after Daniels was charged said, “Really five years! That’s all.” It referred to the maximum prison sentence Daniels faced at the time if he were convicted.
“Why is not murder??” another poster said.
“[Deleted] only five years for killing that poor girl this is so wrong,” another poster said.
The filing stated comments on the Daniels case sometimes exceeded 100 posts.
“From the very beginning, the news media coverage has portrayed the defendant in a negative light,” the filing states.
“It is no stretch to say that many [commentators], without knowing the evidence, or lack of it, have concluded that Mr. Daniels is guilty. Pretrial publicity has tainted the jury [pool] by exposing potential jurors to the opinions of those who insist on opining,” the filing states.
Our system of justice is based on the ideal that “every person accused of a crime is entitled to be tried by a fair and impartial jury of his peers,” the filing says. “The defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence. The defendant will not receive a fair trial if the trial is not moved.”
In another filing, Juhasz asked Judge Ronald Rice to conduct individual questioning of each potential juror during jury selection to determine which people have already formed an opinion on Daniels’ guilt or innocence.
The filing notes that this type of jury selection is “used in many [death penalty] cases” but also should be used in this case.
Prosecutors have not yet filed a rebuttal to the requests, but Christopher Becker, assistant county prosecutor, did request that the jury see the location where the shooting took place.