After being moved to Hamilton County in early May, Cottrell's attorneys filed an Amended Motion for Change of Venue, stating the amount of publicity surrounding the case in the county as the main concern.
During Wednesday's pre-trial and change of venue hearing at Noblesville, Eric Koselke (one of Cottrell's attorneys) presented evidence to support the change of venue to Superior Court No. 3 Judge William J. Hughes.
He presented four articles from the Indianapolis Star's Web site, stating possible jurors in Hamilton County have been exposed to circumstances surrounding the case. The articles were dated Nov. 1, Nov. 2, Nov. 4 and Dec. 22, 2005.
Koselke mentioned that other pieces of evidence existed, but weren't easily obtainable.
He said approximately 100 newscasts related to the case have been presented to the Indianapolis area from affiliate stations of ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX. Recordings of those newscasts have been compiled by a media firm and are available for sale at $105-$165 for each video clip.
Koselke and Cottrell's other attorney, Jessie Cook, asked the judge for funding to obtain the newscasts for evidence supporting the change of venue.
When asked about his opinion on the request for funding, Parke County Prosecutor Steve Cvengros said, "I don't dispute that there has been media coverage... I dispute that the request is a little late and unreasonable."
The judge granted $10,500 of Parke County's money to be spent on the video clips.
"The issue is whether jurors can set aside any preconceived notions of guilt," Cvengros said.
Judge Hughes will decide within 10 days whether or not to grant a change of venue.
If a change of venue isn't granted, Koselke suggested that the jury pool for Cottrell's trial be selected from another county, "either very far north or very far south."
Near the end of the hearing, a possible date to start the trial was discussed. After a short deliberation, Hughes set April 30, 2007, as the trial date, anticipating it to last two to four weeks.
The trial schedule is expected to be Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The preliminary witness and exhibit list is due in 30 days, with the final list due by Oct. 30. Changes can be made with a good cause.
Another guideline was set after Hughes asked, "Do you anticipate plea negotiations?"
"I don't," Cvengros said.
Hughes set the deadline for plea negotiations to take place at least 30 days prior to the trial date, April 30.
Koselke requested that the court not set a deadline for plea negotiations.
Hughes denied the request.
Suggested by Cottrell's attorneys, Hughes mentioned that pre-trial hearings should take place each month or every six weeks beginning in August. The hearings would most likely take place in Parke County because it is easier for Hughes and Cottrell's attorneys to travel than for the Parke County Sheriff's Department to arrange for Cottrell to appear for court in Hamilton County.
Hughes also enforced a motion set by Parke County Circuit Court Judge Sam Swaim, stating that law enforcement and others involved in the case in Hamilton County cannot discuss the case with the media.
Cottrell, 35, is charged with three counts of murder for the Halloween weekend 2005 slayings of his wife, Trisha Cottrell, 29, and two stepdaughters, Brittany, 12, and Victoria, 10, Williams, in the Cottrell's rural Parke County home.