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Date published: 11/30/2012
But in her ruling last week, Chief U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith wrote that an immediate transfer of venue isn't justified. Among other things, Smith noted that defense attorneys didn't identify any instances of sensational or non-factual reporting in the case. She also wrote that the upcoming release of a movie starring Tom Hanks as the captain of a merchant ship who was taken hostage by Somali pirates and filmed in Virginia wasn't a compelling argument to change the venue. Defense attorneys had argued the film is particularly relevant because it features Navy SEALs, who are based in neighboring Virginia Beach.
"The Defendants' arguments are unpersuasive. Even if the movie does have the potential to create prejudice, a point which the government does not concede, and the court does not assume to be true, it would presumably create prejudice in any market where it is released," Smith wrote.
If convicted, prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty. Smith also denied a motion to block that potential sentence.