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Judge Moves Trial Of Santa Fe High School Shooting Suspect Out Of Galveston County

Lawyers for Dimitrios Pagourtzis had argued his client should receive the same treatment as others accused of mass murder.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis Santa Fe Shooting
Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP, Pool
Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the Santa Fe High School student accused of killing 10 people in a May 18, 2018 shooting at the high school, is escorted by Galveston County Sheriff’s Office deputies into the jury assembly room for a change of venue hearing at the Galveston County Courthouse on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019.

The judge overseeing the upcoming trial of the alleged Santa Fe High School shooter decided on Wednesday the trial will be moved out of Galveston County.

Judge John Ellisor, who presides over the 122nd District Court in Galveston County, granted a change of venue motion filed by the attorneys for Dimitrios Pagourtzis.

Nicholas Poehl, one of Pagourtzis’ lawyers, said this week his client should receive the same treatment as others accused of mass murder. He cited Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and serial killer Ted Bundy, who received changes of venue.

Poehl talked about a proximity factor during a press conference held after his client's court appearance, as reported by FOX 26 Houston. "How you feel about a case is impacted by your proximity to it and your relationship to it, so I think people in Galveston feel a certain way about this case, whereas people in Dallas or Austin or such, who weren't right there, would feel differently," Poehl said.

Prosecutors argued that a fair trial could be held locally, in Galveston County, and they could assemble an impartial jury. They said many details about the attack have not been released.

Pagourtzis, 18, is accused of opening fire at the Santa Fe High School on May 18, 2018, killing 10 people and wounding 13 others. He has been charged with capital murder and aggravated assault of a public servant.

Santa Fe is located about 40 miles southeast of Houston.

An official from Judge Ellisor’s court said the new location for the trial hasn’t been designated yet.

Because he was 17 at the time of the shooting, if convicted, Pagourtzis would be eligible for a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years.