Mitchell A. Gayer

Mitchell A. Gayer

Kevin E. Schmidt, QUAD-CITY TIMES FILE PHOTO

An Andalusia man charged in connection with a double-fatal DUI crash in 2013 wants his trial moved out of Rock Island County.

Earlier this week, attorney Katherine Drummond filed a motion for a change of venue for Mitchell A. Gayer, 26.

Drummond wrote in the motion that pretrial publicity surrounding the case “has created such prejudice that the defendant cannot receive a trial by an impartial jury free from outside influences.”

She further wrote that Gayer has concerns about the ability of prospective Rock Island County jurors to "put aside their preformed emotions, reactions, and sentiments and become a neutral fact finder."

To bolster her argument, Drummond included a stack of newspaper articles and reader comments on news websites and social media pages. 

A hearing date on the motion had not been set as of Wednesday.

Rock Island County State’s Attorney John McGehee said he received the motion Wednesday but had not yet reviewed it. 

“We are going to respond in kind, but we generally don’t want a change in venue because of the cost to the county,” he said.

McGehee said it is “very unusual” that a change of venue is granted in the county.

Gayer is charged with two counts of aggravated driving under the influence in the Nov. 27, 2013, crash that killed Jamie Sedam, 22, of Port Byron and Clayton Carver, 24, of Taylor Ridge.

Gayer, who also was injured in the crash, maintains he has no memory of what happened or whether he was even driving.

He faces of six to 28 years in prison if convicted.

In January 2015, Gayer entered an Alford plea to one count of aggravated driving under the influence and was sentenced in May 2015 to 18 years in prison. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but agrees the prosecution likely could prove the charge.

On Dec. 30, Associate Judge Thomas Berglund granted his request to take back his plea and vacate his prison sentence.

Gayer has a pretrial conference Aug. 19. He remains free on bond. 

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