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New Orleans bouncers get change of venue in GSU student’s death

    NEW ORLEANS — The trial of four bouncers charged in the 2004 death of Georgia Southern University student Levon Jones will be held outside of New Orleans because some believe a New Orleans jury would be tainted by excessive media coverage.
     A Louisiana Supreme Court ruling overturned a state appeal court decision against the request by Clay Montz, 34, Matthew Taylor, 24, Arthur Irons, 43, and Brandon Vicknair, 24, all of whom are charged with manslaughter of Levon Jones. The men are free on $50,000 bonds.
    Jones, 26, was pinned to the sidewalk outside Razzoo Bar & Patio in New Orleans after protesting because a friend was denied entrance to the club based on a dress-code violation, police said. The incident occurred New Year's Eve, 2004.
    Bystanders videotaped the incident as the four bouncers, who are white, restrained Jones, who was black. Coroner Frank Minyard said Jones was asphyxiated. He ruled the death a homicide.
    District Judge Raymond Bigelow ruled in April 2006 that the trial should be moved because of unprecedented media coverage.Video of the scuffle between Jones and the bouncers was shown repeatedly on local and national newscasts.
    ‘‘A vast majority of the jury pool has viewed the incident itself,’’ Bigelow wrote. ‘‘ ... Minyard opined to all who would listen that Levon Jones’ death was a homicide. He told (TV news) that ’The bouncers killed that man.’’’
    The four may be tried separately, but none wanted a jury selected from New Orleans, convinced that there was no chance of a fair trial.
    ‘‘We find no abuse of discretion or manifest error in the trial court’s ruling,’’ Justice Catherine Kimball wrote for the majority.
    The Razzoo case has been on hold, awaiting the state Supreme Court’s ruling. The next court hearing is scheduled for January.
    If the trial is held in New Orleans, it would be with a jury from another parish.
    ———
    Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.timespicayune.com

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