Dallas Judge Turns Down Cop's Request for Venue Change in Murder Trial

Roy Oliver
Roy Oliver Parker County
Former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver will be tried in Dallas, a judge ruled Tuesday, shutting down an attempt by Oliver's attorneys to have their client's case moved to a different county. Oliver is set to go on trial for murder later this month, after shooting and killing a Mesquite teenager following the breakup of a party in the eastern Dallas County suburb.

In their motion to move Oliver's trial, attorneys Jim Lane, Miles Brissette and Robert Gill claimed that Dallas County's jury pool is tainted against their client because of the coverage the media has devoted to the shooting. Specifically, they cite the frequent use of Oliver's mug shot as something that could influence potential jurors.

State District Judge Brandon Birmingham didn't buy the defense's arguments.

“I don’t think that what’s been reported has been inflammatory to that extent.” — Brandon Birmingham

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“I do know that from the stories that I’ve seen, and the stories that have been provided to this court, I do believe that they are not inflammatory,” Birmingham said, according to reporters in the courtroom. “I believe that the courts have considered that news stories that are accurate and objective don’t run afoul of anybody’s constitutional rights, and I don’t think that what’s been reported has been inflammatory to that extent.” 
Jordan Edwards - LEE MERRITT
Jordan Edwards
Lee Merritt

After heading into the house to break up the party in April 2017, Oliver heard gunshots outside, according to a statement made after the incident by Balch Springs police Chief Jonathan Haber. Oliver and his partner ran outside and ordered the car in which Jordan Edwards was riding to stop. The car didn't stop, Balch Springs police say, despite Oliver's orders, so the police officer shot at the car with a rifle.

The shot hit Edwards in the head and killed him. In his initial report of the incident, Oliver said that the car in which Edwards was riding was coming at him when he shot at it. Haber later announced that the car was moving away from Oliver.

In July 2017, a Dallas County grand jury indicted Oliver for Edwards' murder. The ex-cop was also charged with one count of aggravated assault for each of the four teenagers traveling in the car with Edwards.

Oliver faces five to 99 years in prison on the murder charge. If he's convicted, he'll be the first cop convicted of murder in Dallas County since Dallas police Officer Darrell L. Cain shot Santos Rodriguez in the head as Rodriguez sat in the back of Cain's squad car, accused of stealing $8 from a gas station vending machine. Cain was convicted in 1973.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young