Buie trial to be in Albany

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY -- Dougherty Superior Court Judge Denise Marshall ruled Wednesday that the trial of former downtown manager Don Buie will be conducted in Albany, court records show.

In her three-page decision filed Wednesday, Marshall ruled that while extensive media coverage may exist concerning investigation of Buie and the subsequent indictments, nothing suggests that it has prejudiced the potential jurors.

"While the court feels assured that many prospective jurors will have heard, read, or seen something relating to the defendant's case, little evidence of inflammatory, untrue, or inaccurate publicity was brought

to the Court's attention," she wrote.

Buie's attorney, Johnnie Graham, argued at a Nov. 25 hearing that media coverage from area television stations and newspapers had "deluged" the community with information and contaminated the potential jury pool, threatening Buie's chances for a fair trial.

Buie, who served as downtown manager and chief executive officer of the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority from November 2007 until his firing this past August, was charged with fraud and theft in a 17-count indictment handed down by a Dougherty County grand jury. Also indicted were his estranged wife Shanon, who is currently fighting extradition back to Georgia from her home in North Carolina, former ADICA contractor Nicole Brown and former downtown business owner Tim Washington.

Presenting 61 defense exhibits which were largely copies of stories written or aired about Buie since the controversy first came to light last summer, Graham asked the court to move the trial away from Dougherty County.

After examining the exhibits, Marshall wrote that the evidence was more damning toward the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority and the city of Albany and their governance of Buie as a manager than toward Buie himself.

"The afore-referenced articles blistered those in city governance far more than they did the defendant," she wrote.

"The court would note that while there has been significant pretrial publicity, it does not rise to the level that would warrant a granting of a change venue ... for the most part, the media releases were factual, procedural and nonprejudicial," she wrote.

Buie's trial has been set for 9 a.m., Dec. 14, at the Dougherty County Courthouse.