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Defendant’s trial in double murder will remain in Missoula

Posted at 9:17 PM, Jan 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-25 23:17:23-05

MISSOULA – A Missoula woman charged with double murder in the gruesome deaths of two people last year had her motion to change venue for her trial denied Friday morning by Judge James Wheelis Friday.

Tiffanie Pierce is accused of murdering two people and trying to dispose of the bodies in tubs of acid in the basement of her Strand Avenue home with the help of her boyfriend, Augustus Standing Rock.

Standing Rock pleaded guilty to the crime back in December.

Pierce’s defense team submitted the motion to change venues on the grounds that they could not find an impartial jury in Missoula, citing media coverage.

The defense hired Howard University Professor Richard Seltzer to conduct a survey in Missoula and Yellowstone counties to gauge how much knowledge a jury pool had on the trial.

While people in Missoula knew more about the details of the trial, which is argued could cause a more biased jury pool, Wheelis doesn’t think a venue change would solve the problem.

“I’m going to deny the motion to change venue at this stage, principally because I think that, frankly, the drama in this case is going to effect a potential panel wherever we go, even if it’s not in their neighborhood,” Wheelis said.  “Even if it’s true that a Missoula jury would be more affected because it concerns their own neighborhood, their own community, etc.”

Wheelis told the courtroom he doesn’t know a community in Montana that wouldn’t be affected by hosting the trial and the media coverage that would follow.

Pierce’s next court appearance is scheduled for the Feb. 9.

Story by Connor McCauley, MTN News