COLUMBIA – The Missouri Supreme Court will consider bringing in a Clay County jury to hear the second-degree murder trial of a Columbia man after his motion for change of venue was denied Monday in Boone County Circuit Court.
Horace C. Johnson, 25, is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of his 2-year-old son, Cortez.
On Monday, Johnson asked that his upcoming jury trial be moved to Clay County because the case had received a lot of media attention in Columbia, Johnson's attorney Steve Wyse said.
Boone County Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton denied the request, but agreed to ask the Supreme Court to bring a Clay County jury to Columbia for the trial. Hamilton granted Johnson's request to push back his trial date to allow for additional time to bring an outside jury to town. The trial originally was scheduled to begin Dec. 3.
Johnson was living with the boy's mother, Keyonda Lumpkin, 26, at the time of Cortez's death. She is also charged with second-degree murder.
Both Johnson and Lumpkin have accused each other of causing the injuries that led to the boy's death.
Cortez was pronounced dead at University Hospital on June 25 in what was later ruled a homicide.
According to the case's probable cause statement, Cortez had "numerous significant injuries to his body," including severe burns, bruises and lacerations. The medical examiner found that a blunt force trauma to the head was the cause of the boy's death.
Once the Supreme Court decides whether to bring a jury from outside the county, a new trial date will be set, and the proceedings will continue.
Wyse said that while the final decision is up to the Supreme Court, it usually complies with requests from the circuit court.