Defense wants trial of accused cop killer moved out of Twin Cities

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Defense lawyers are asking a judge to move the murder trial of Brian Fitch away from the Twin Cities because of extensive publicity about the killing of Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick.

The Pioneer Press reports the motion filed Thursday also seeks to have the indictment of Fitch by a multicounty grand jury thrown out and some of his remarks suppressed as evidence.

Fitch is charged with crimes including first-degree murder stemming from the July shooting death of Officer Scott Patrick during a traffic stop and a subsequent shootout with police in St. Paul.

Patrick's killing and Fitch's shootout occurred in Dakota and Ramsey Counties, respectively. That led prosecutors to take the rare step of convening a multicounty grand jury, which returned a first degree murder indictment against Fitch last month.

As the Star Tribune reports, the defense argues in Thursday's motion that the two events are unrelated and the charges should be considered by separate juries in each county.

In addition, the defense wants statements Fitch made to investigators at Regions Hospital ruled inadmissible as evidence, both newspapers report.

Fitch was admitted to the hospital for treatment of the injuries he sustained in the shootout. According to the criminal complaints against Fitch, he told a police officer there "Just to let you know, I hate cops and I'm guilty."

The defense argues that – since police had not yet read Fitch his rights – his statements cannot be used as evidence. The Pioneer Press notes the Dakota County Attorney's office has said prosecutors maintain the remark was made freely by Fitch and was not a response to questioning.

Fitch is being held without bail at the state prison in Stillwater. The Star Tribune reports the next hearing in his case is coming up on Monday, but arguments on the new defense motions are scheduled for Dec. 16.

His trial is scheduled to begin on January 12 at the Dakota County courthouse in Hastings.

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