This story was updated at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, with more information.
Attorneys for Janet Hinds, the motorist accused of hitting and killing Chattanooga police officer Nicholas Galinger, have filed a motion seeking to move the trial to another venue.
Galinger, 38, was struck by a car on Feb. 23, 2019, while inspecting a manhole cover that had water flowing from it in the 2900 block of Hamill Road just after 11 p.m. The driver fled the scene.
Hinds' attorneys — Ben McGowan and Marya Schalk — argue that because of "undue excitement against [Hinds]," allegedly caused by "extensive pretrial publicity," Hinds could not have a fair trial in Hamilton County.
They claim news outlets have unfairly given the case more coverage than other cases in which a pedestrian was killed, and that the coverage "has not been objective nor fair, but instead has been quick to criticize, criminalize and convict the defendant."
The attorneys point out that local news stations have live-streamed hearings so community members could "see and comment on [them] in real time." Thousands of "prejudicial comments" have inundated social media, they argue, and some live streams have reached more than 59,000 views.
Also, they argue, members of law enforcement, their families and the Galinger family have made comments or posted information to social media about the case. Specifically, they argue, the Galinger family "has not been shy in speaking with the media" and commenting on social media, "directly challenging individuals who may not be on — [their] side."
Multiple examples of social media posts and comments were attached to the motion.
For those reasons, Hinds' attorneys have asked the court to order a change of venue or at least bring in an out-of-town jury, and that jurors be sequestered.
"A significant percentage of potential Hamilton County jurors have already formed strong (and potentially immutable) opinions about this case which are unlikely to be overcome by the evidence ultimately presented at trial," they argue.
Moving the trial or selecting jurors from out of town "is the only way to ensure that Ms. Hinds receives a fair trial," her attorneys contend.
Hinds, 55, faces 10 charges, including vehicular homicide by way of intoxication and driving under the influence, in the Feb. 23 hit-and-run death.
While prosecutors say her drinking and speeding contributed to the fatal incident, her defense attorneys, McGowan and Schalk, have argued Galinger wasn't visible as he inspected an overflowing manhole on Hamill Road: The road sign over the manhole had lost its reflective cover, Galinger and his field training officer were dressed in blue and not wearing reflective vests, their cruiser lights weren't on, and it was dark and raining.
Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don Poole said he will set a trial date for Hinds during a motion hearing scheduled for July 7.
Her next hearing is set for Feb. 3.