The motion for a change of venue for the trial of a man accused in the death of a Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office dispatcher has been denied, according to court documents filed with the 36th Judicial District Courthouse.
Phil Oliver, 35, of Marrerro will remain in Beauregard Parish to face a local jury during his trial in answer to his charge of second-degree murder in the August 2018 death of 24-year-old Marquita Wright.
This month, Judge Martha Ann O’Neal filed her judgment regarding the request for a change of venue originally filed in April by Oliver’s defense attorney, David Wallace.
Wallace argued Oliver would not have access to an unbiased jury in Beauregard Parish due to the publicity the case has received over the past two years, and the fact the victim was employed by a local law enforcement agency.
In her written judgement, O’Neal stated the publicity surrounding the trial has been “minimal,” with only five local newspaper articles having been printed since the alleged crime occurred.
“The notoriety and severity of the offense are no more than any other individual being charged with seconddegree murder. While the area from which the jury is to be drawn is smaller than other jurisdictions, this factor would only come into effect should the publicity be prejudicial and much more frequent than in this instance,” O’Neal’s judgement reads.
During a May 21 hearing regarding the motion filed by Wallace, O’Neal ordered a gag order be enacted to prevent individuals assigned to the case from having contact with members of the press, in respect to the concerns expressed by Wallace.
All court proceedings have since been transcribed and made available to media outlets upon request.
Wright was found dead on the doorstep of her Twin Lakes subdivision home on Aug. 27, 2018, just before 5 a.m.
Authorities said she had just finished her night shift at the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office, where she had worked for more than two years.
On Sept. 6, Oliver was arrested and charged with Wright’s death. He was identified by law enforcement as an ex-boyfriend of Wright’s.
If convicted, Oliver faces a sentence of life in prison.