The former operator of a crematory where
more than 300 corpses were discovered last year has requested a
change of venue for his upcoming trial, saying he's received death
Defense attorney Ken Poston said keeping the trial in Walker
County would be unsafe for his client, Ray Brent Marsh, and
possibly for himself. The trial also should be held away from heavy
media coverage in Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tenn., Poston said.
Prosecutor Herbert "Buzz" Franklin said Monday the threats
were not sufficient for a change of venue, but he would agree to
picking a jury from outside the county.
Superior Court Judge James Bodiford plans to decide within two
weeks on the request. A trial date has not been set.
Marsh pleaded innocent to 179 counts of abuse of a body and 47
counts of making false statements. He withheld pleas on burial
service fraud and theft, and remains free on house arrest bond.
When investigators first searched the crematory property on Feb.
15, 2002, they found decaying bodies that were supposed to have
been cremated. Bodies were spilling out of a storage shed and
scattered around the crematory building and surrounding woods.
During the hearing, Marsh's cousin testified that investigators
told him there were 200 threats against the family following the
discovery of neglected corpses, and FBI agent James McJunkin said
that the agency misplaced a tape of a threatening telephone call to
Poston also said his concern was based on alleged death threats,
violent messages on an Internet chat room related to the crematory
case and monitoring of the case by Ku Klux Klansmen.
Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson said there was no reason to
move the trial.
"There was some outrage in the community early on. That went
away as time went on," Wilson said.
Marsh is charged in Tennessee with abuse of a corpse. He is
accused of transporting bodies to the crematory and returning to
Tennessee funeral homes what were purported to be cremated human
remains. Forensics investigators have said some of the urns
contained cement dust, dirt or unidentified cremated human remains.
Hundreds of people also are suing Marsh for failing to perform
By BILL POOVEY, Associated Press Writer
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)