Trial set in death penalty case

Published 10:17 pm Thursday, January 13, 2011

Attendees at a capital murder trial set for September will not be able to wear buttons or shirts depicting the victim or defendant, a judge ruled Thursday.


Christopher J. Artis, 20, faces the death penalty if convicted of murdering 50-year-old John Price Jr. on July 8, 2009. Price, a Virginian-Pilot newspaper carrier, was shot about 4 a.m. in the 100 block of Brewer Avenue as he delivered the paper, according to police.

Attorneys met to review previously filed motions in the case. Artis is represented by the state Capital Defenders Office.


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Douglas Ramseur, one of Artis’ defense attorneys, made the motion to preclude people from wearing buttons, shirts or other items with photos of people involved in the trial, “seeking to influence one way or the other,” he said.

Judge Rodham T. Delk Jr. said he had only encountered a similar issue once before.

“These were folks that were holding up placards,” Delk said of the previous incident. “I forbade them.”

Delk ordered that items depicting the victim, defendant “or any other person identifiable as being connected with this trial” would not be allowed to be displayed in the courtroom.

Most of the other motions requested the prosecutors to be required to reveal information, including any evidence that Artis did not commit the crime, the criminal histories of witnesses, history of any of the witnesses being a paid police informant and information that indicates any of the witnesses was promised something in exchange for testifying.

Ramseur also entered motions requesting equal access to courthouse resources like phones and the Internet.

More motion dates in the case are set for April 1, April 4, June 22 and Aug. 25. The trial is set to begin Sept. 12, but jury selection could take up to a week, the attorneys estimated.