Millionaire developer Dominic F. Antonelli Jr asked yesterday that his second bribery and conspiracy trial be moved out of the District of Columbia, claiming that the "most damning kind of publicity" about the the case precludes "a fair and impartial trial here."
Antonelli's attorney, Edward Bennett Williams, contended in a 24-page legal brief that the "onstant repetition" of stories in The Washington Post and The Washington Star and on television stations bout a federal jury's October conviction of Antonelli has "indelibly etched (that fact) into the mind of the public."
Antonelli and D.C. mayoral aide Joseph P. Yeldell were convicted on bribery and conspiracy charges after a 17-day trial, but U.S. District Court Judge Gerhard A. Gesell granted them a new trial last month after it was disclosed that a juror had failed to divulge that she once had a checking account at a bank founded by Antonelli. Gesell has set Feb. 19 for the start of the retrial.
Williams submitted massive files of newspaper clippings to Gesell about the Yeldell-Antonelli case and other allegations that have been leveled at Yeldell over the last tow years. In addition, Antonelli's attorney included casts telling of the convictions.
Williams contended that the publicity was so massive that "it would take a careful newspaper reader indeed to recall precisely what the actual indictment charge and what the jury verdict actually found. It is more probable, we suggest, that the average newspaper reader would be more likely to conclude that the defendants were guilty of whatever media charge came to mind first."
Williams said that if Gesell rules against the request for a change in the trial location there should at least be a lengthy delay before a new trial here.
Gesell has previously siad that as he understand the law a new trial location should be granted only if enough impartial juors cannot be found.
Yeldell did not submit any request for a change in trial locations yesterday.