The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

May 2, 2013

Trial in death of Anniston officer moved to Lee Co


Associated Press

— ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) — A man charged with killing an Anniston police officer will stand trial in Lee County following a ruling by a Calhoun County judge on Wednesday.

The Anniston Star (http://bit.ly/162hTD9 ) reported that the trial for 25-year-old Joshua Eugene Russell will be held in Opelika in September.

Calhoun County Circuit Judge Brian Howell announced the trial location during a status hearing on Wednesday.

Russell, 25, is charged with shooting 27-year-old Sollohub during a foot chase in August 2011. Sollohub died the next day in a Birmingham hospital.

John Robbins, an attorney appointed to represent Russell, said after a previous hearing that a survey would be used to find a county similar in size and demographics to Calhoun County for the new location of the trial.

Howell granted a change of venue in February. The judge made the decision after another survey showed Calhoun County residents had knowledge of the case from following news coverage — knowledge that could prevent Russell from receiving a fair trial.

"Based upon that survey and prevailing case law in the state the judge thought it was prudent at this point to move it," Robbins said Wednesday.

The judge says the defense can have the results of psychological testing on Russell's IQ.

Russell, who attended Wednesday's hearing, is being held in the Etowah County Jail without bond. He is charged with capital murder and faces a potential death sentence.