BROOKSVILLE — Two men accused of beating the man known as "the walker" will stand trial in a Lake County courtroom in April, Circuit Judge Stephen Rushing said Thursday.
The judge moved the trials out of Hernando County earlier this week after selecting an unbiased jury to hear this high-profile case proved difficult.
Jamie Lynn Tyson, 18, and Michael Vann, 24, face attempted murder charges for their roles in the brutal beating in September 2007 that left John Kelly, 50, in the hospital for months.
The assault attracted widespread media coverage and sparked a huge outpouring of support for Kelly in the community.
Tyson's trial was scheduled to start Monday but Rushing abruptly cancelled it an hour into jury selection. Too many jurors had strong feelings about the case and told the judge they couldn't be impartial.
Tyson's trial will start April 6 and run for two days. Vann's trial will start after the first trial's conclusion, the judge said at a hearing.
The judge and attorneys picked Lake County because it is outside the Tampa Bay area media market but still within the Fifth Judicial Circuit, which encompasses Hernando.
Kelly, a mentally challenged man, earned his nickname from his daily walks along county roads near his home in Weeki Wachee. His attackers beat him, robbed him and left him for dead in a ditch on Cortez Boulevard near U.S. 19 after he had withdrawn money from an ATM.
John Frank can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 754-6114.