Change of venue denied

Judge says media coverage fair

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— A request for a new trial location by a former Steamboat Springs man accused of attacking a friend with a hammer was summarily denied Friday.

District Judge Joel S. Thompson rejected Adam Whitlow Cumbie's assertion that he could not get a fair trial in Routt County because of pretrial publicity.

Larry Combs, representing Cumbie, 28, characterized news coverage of his client's case in Steamboat Today and on local radio station KBCR as "massive, pervasive and prejudicial."

"We do not believe a fair trial or an impartial jury is available in Routt County," Combs said.

The judge disagreed.

After hearing arguments from Combs and Deputy District Attorney Charles Feldmann, Thompson denied a request to move the case west to Moffat County.

Prior to the hearing, Thompson reviewed six articles published in Steamboat Today as well as transcripts of KBCR radio broadcasts.

A seventh newspaper article was submitted by Combs on Friday.

"This coverage is not massive or pervasive," the judge said.

Thompson said the media's coverage accurately reflected details of the alleged crime and what had transpired in court proceedings.

"This is not a situation where there has been publicity that has been verbally abusive," Thompson said. "This has been fact-based reporting of what the allegations are and what has happened in court."

Thompson characterized the coverage by the newspaper and the radio station as "neutral and even-handed."

After turning down the change-of-venue request, Thompson ordered two separate trials for Cumbie.

A one-day hearing has been set for May 17 to deal with a charge that Cumbie violated a bail bond condition. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The second trial is scheduled for three days starting Sept. 5. At it, Cumbie will have to answer charges of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, violent crime with the use of a weapon, criminal attempt and third-degree assault.

Cumbie was arrested last April after he allegedly hit a friend in the head with a hammer in a Steamboat Springs condominium.

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