The trial for the father of one of the abducted cousins in Evansdale, Iowa, has been moved to Davenport because of publicity over the girls’ disappearance.
District Judge David Staudt ruled that it would be unlikely to find an impartial jury in Black Hawk County in the domestic abuse and drug cases against Daniel Eugene Morrissey, 36.
In a ruling signed Monday, Staudt said the results of a questionnaire presented to residents found a substantial number had heard or read a great deal about the missing girls and Morrissey.
“The court further finds that the juror questionnaire results reveal that a substantial portion of the potential jurors in Black Hawk County have reached a fixed opinion concerning Mr. Morrissey’s guilt or innocence and would be unable to fairly assess the facts in his case,” Staudt wrote in his ruling.
He also noted that the disappearance was voted the top story in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area in 2012 and the survey was administered before the girls’ remains were found.
A Jan. 18 hearing has been scheduled to work out the details and set trial dates.
Morrissey, of Waterloo, is the father of Lyric Cook-Morrissey, who was 10 when she and her cousin, 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins, disappeared in July while riding their bikes in Evansdale. Their bodies were discovered at Seven Bridges Wildlife Area in rural Bremer County in December.
No one has been charged in their deaths.
At the time of the disappearance, Morrissey was awaiting trial on methamphetamine and domestic abuse charges, and his attorney, Kevin Schoeberl, argued coverage of the abduction hampered Morrissey’s ability of receive a fair trial in Black Hawk County.
Morrissey is facing four trials, and Staudt ordered that the first to go will be a case stemming from an October 2011 incident in which he was accused of possessing meth inside a vacant home.