MARIPOSA — Prosecutors want the triple-murder trial of Yosemite killer Cary Stayner held in Sacramento because it is convenient for witnesses and family members of the victims and defendant.
Judge Thomas Hastings ordered the trial moved out of Mariposa Superior Court after a defense lawyer argued that extensive news coverage would make it impossible to find impartial jurors. Prosecutors did not object.
Hastings will hold a Dec. 17 hearing to decide whether the case should be held in Los Angeles, Sacramento or Santa Clara, where he lives.
Assistant District Attorney Kim Fletcher said in papers filed Monday that the state capital was closer to Mariposa County and it was where the FBI has kept most of the evidence against Stayner.
Defense lawyer Marcia Morrissey of Santa Monica said she wants the trial held in Los Angeles.
“They really don’t address, I think, the crucial issue, which is the ability to get a jury that hasn’t been saturated with the case,” Morrissey said. “In Los Angeles, the case hasn’t gotten near the attention.”
Fletcher argued that Los Angeles court officials only want to be considered as a last option and suggested Sacramento instead.
Stayner, 40, faces a Feb. 25 trial on charges that he killed three tourists staying at the rustic Yosemite National Park lodge where he worked as a handyman.
Carole Sund, 42, her daughter, Juli, 15, and friend Silvina Pelosso, 16, vanished in February 1999. Their bodies were found weeks later.
Stayner admitted to the killings in a tape recorded confession that was played at an earlier hearing.
Stayner is serving a federal life sentence for the July 1999 murder of Joie Armstrong, who led children on nature hikes in the park.
He faces the death penalty if convicted in the tourist case.