Defense also wants evidence barred from trial

Updated: May 25, 2004, 7:03 PM ET
Associated Press

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. -- Mike Danton wants a venue change in his murder-for-hire trial, questioning his chances of getting unbiased jurors in the area where he played for the St. Louis Blues.

Mike Danton

His lawyers also have asked the judge to bar as evidence any of Danton's recorded phone calls after his arrest. That would include jailhouse talks with agent David Frost, whom Danton allegedly tried to have killed.

Danton also seeks to keep prosecutors from using evidence found at his suburban St. Louis apartment April 16, the day he was arrested.

The audiotapes in question include Danton's messages with co-defendant Katie Wolfmeyer; his messages and talks with two would-be hit men; and clips from 79 conversations totaling about 1,000 minutes between Danton and Frost from a California jail, where Danton was held for 12 days after his arrest.

Those conversations played a key role in a four-hour hearing Friday when Judge Michael Reagan ordered Danton to remain jailed in Illinois pending his July trial, dashing defense bids that he be sent for outside psychiatric help.

If the motion for the venue change is rejected, Danton attorney Robert Haar argued that he be allowed to quiz would-be jurors to "maximize the possibility of seating an impartial jury."

That motion cited "prejudicial pretrial publicity" in seeking the new venue. Haar did not return telephone messages Tuesday seeking comment about whether a St. Louis-area trial perhaps might work in Danton's favor with jurors who might be Blues fans and sympathetic to him.

Randy Massey, a federal prosecutor, on Tuesday declined to comment on Danton's latest motions. A message left Tuesday with Frost was not returned.

Danton, 23, is accused of persuading Wolfmeyer to hire a hit man to kill Frost. The would-be hit man instead went to authorities, and Danton was arrested in San Jose, Calif., a day after the Blues were eliminated from the playoffs.

If convicted, Danton currently faces up to 10 years in prison.

Wolfmeyer, a 19-year-old college student from suburban St. Louis, also faces murder-for-hire charges. She is free on $100,000 bond, pending trial July 13.

Danton and Wolfmeyer have pleaded not guilty. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Clark has not said whether Frost would be charged.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press