Lawyer pushes for change in Anderson’s trial location

The attorney representing former police officer Jason Anderson, accused of driving the car that killed two teenagers three years ago, told Judge Denise Markle Tuesday that proceedings need to be moved out of Milford so his client can get a fair trial.

Attorney Hugh Keefe said there has been considerable “negative” publicity about the case and that jurors will continue to hear people’s opinions as the trial gets under way.

“I’m not being Pollyanna-ish about this motion,” Keefe said during pre-trial motions at Milford Superior Court. “I’ve made this motion too many times and had it denied too many times.”

Keefe said he doesn’t understand why Connecticut judges appear opposed to moving trials to different courts.

“Why are judges so reluctant to transfer cases … if it will help get the defendant a fair trial?” he asked.

Anderson is charged with manslaughter in the collision three years ago that killed David Servin and Ashlie Krakowski, both 19 and from Orange.

The accident took place June 13, 2009, when Anderson, driving a police cruiser back to Milford from a mutual aid call in West Haven, collided with the car in which the two teenagers were traveling.

Fellow officer Richard Pisani was cited in the accident, as was Anderson, because of allegations that he was racing Anderson when the accident occurred.

Anderson was fired by the Board of Police Commissioners, and Pisani was suspended.

Keefe said it will be difficult to find jurors locally who are not familiar with the case. Keefe specifically noted a video of the crash that the Milford Police Department released, and which was aired on many local media outlets and YouTube.

“It was shown repeatedly on news broadcasts over the past three years, with no comment from the other side,” Keefe said.

“The same judge can go to Litchfield,” Keefe proposed. “What is the big deal? I would doubt if people in Litchfield know anything about this case.”

He added that with the trial taking place in Milford, jurors are apt to be questioned and to talk about the case when they meet friends in the grocery store, for example, and to be influenced by those conversations.

Judge Markle asked him why the chatter would be any different if the case was moved to Litchfield. She also said anyone can access the coverage on the media, whether they live in Milford or Litchfield.

Keefe persisted, saying Anderson “gets only one shot in this case,” and he wants to ensure it is fair.

State’s Attorney Kevin Lawlor countered that he doesn’t believe there has been much coverage in the media since the accident happened three years ago, except for recent articles about the trial. He also said judges are hesitant to move trials because a thorough jury selection process in Connecticut helps ensure qualified jurors are selected.

The judge is expected to rule on Keefe’s request, and several other motions made Tuesday, later this week.

Anderson has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

Staff writer Bettina Thiel contributed to this article.��

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