Rosario likely to be tried here
A Topeka resident charged with the December 2013 rape and attempted murder of a Holton woman will likely be tried in Jackson County District Court this spring.
During a hearing on Wednesday, District Court Judge Micheal Ireland denied a motion for a change of venue in the trial of Filip Chase Rosario, who has been scheduled for a five-day trial starting on Monday, March 30. Ireland said the results of the change-of-venue study, sought by Rosario’s attorney, Ron Evans of Topeka, showed “no reason” to move the trial elsewhere.
Rosario will also continue to retain Evans as his attorney on Ireland’s recommendation, despite a written request from Rosario in November to have Evans replaced based on the defendant’s claim that Evans “is ineffective as my counsel.” Ireland told Rosario that few attorneys in this area could ably defend him in court and urged him to keep Evans, whom Ireland described as “a good, competent individual,” at hand.
Rosario has been charged with attempted capital murder, two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy, two counts of rape, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery and criminal threat, all felonies, in the December 2013 incident, which reportedly occurred in Holton. He is currently being held on $300,000 bond.
Evans had filed a motion in August to have Rosario tried elsewhere, noting he had hired a Pittsburg State University-based firm to conduct a survey of potential jurors to determine whether the current venue is “tainted.” But on Wednesday, Ireland noted the results of the survey had been returned, and those results showed “no reason to substantiate a change of venue.”
Ireland also told Rosario that while the defendant would not have any direct involvement in the selection of a jury, he and Evans could ask questions of potential jurors, noting that “not everybody is a good juror for every type of case.” Ireland also told Evans that he “shouldn’t have trouble picking a jury” for the March trial.
Rosario also requested that Ireland reduce his bond — an action that had already been granted when Ireland cut his bond from the original $500,000 to $300,000 in June — but Ireland denied the request, stating that Rosario was facing “severe charges that might make (him) a flight risk.” Ireland also told him that his request would be considered if filed in the form of a motion, but no motion had been filed prior to Wednesday’s hearing.
Concerning Rosario’s request for a new defense attorney, Ireland said that very few local attorneys were qualified to handle “this level of a case” and asked Rosario to “be patient” with Evans, who is one of three available attorneys from the State of Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit. All three attorneys have to cover the entire state, Ireland said, and Evans added that the other two are “too busy.”
“I’ve missed some appointments,” Evans told Ireland. “I’ll do better.”
Rosario had also written Jackson County Attorney Shawna Miller seeking the details of a possible “plea deal,” but Ireland told him that “ethically,” he could only contact Miller through Evans. Furthermore, Ireland said, if a plea deal is offered, “it’s basically a contract” although Rosario, through Evans, could offer a “counter-plea.”
A hearing on pre-trial motions has been set for 1 p.m. Friday, March 27 in district court.