Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in the murder trial of a man accused of fatally stabbing Marques Butler of Key West in a 4 a.m. fight during Fantasy Fest 2009.
Defense attorneys for Nicholas Ferro sought to move the second-degree murder trial out of Key West, but circuit Judge David Audlin denied the change of venue motion on Monday. Defense attorney Ed O'Donnell of Miami said the issue could come up again during jury selection Monday.
Defense co-counsel Carlos Gonzalez had argued in the motion that angry locals and biased media coverage of Butler's death would make it impossible for Ferro to get a fair trial in Key West.
Defense attorneys previously attempted to have the murder charge dropped altogether, citing Florida's Stand Your Ground law, which legalizes lethal force if a victim feels his or her life is in danger, but Audlin and the 3rd District Court of Appeal both rejected that motion.
Barring any last-minute developments, attorneys and Audlin should begin interviewing potential jurors Monday at the Freeman Justice Center. The trial follows more than two years of legal maneuvering by defense attorneys, who have depicted Ferro as a victim in a fight between two groups of people.
Ferro's attorneys have stated in multiple motions that he was coming to the defense of a friend who was being pummeled by an angry mob, and that evidence suggests Ferro was only defending himself when he pulled out a small knife.
Prosecutors, too, say there was a fight between two groups of youth, but they allege Ferro was the aggressor rather than the victim.
Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney's Breezye Telfair and Miesha Shonta Darrough were appointed by former Gov. Charlie Crist to prosecute the case because of a potential conflict of interest with the Monroe County State Attorney's Office. Three employees in the Monroe County office either knew Butler or know witnesses in the case.
Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office spokesman Ed Griffith said prosecutors were in Key West preparing for the trial, but declined to comment further.
O'Donnell said he expects the trial to take at least two weeks.
"I think everyone is expecting jury selection alone to take a few days," he said.
Ferro, 25, of Hollywood, is being held without bail in the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island.