The lawyer representing a former teacher accused of filming boys in bathrooms filed a motion last week in Bowie County asking that the case be moved to another county because of pretrial publicity.
Shane Samuel Jones, 31, was arrested in November for allegedly using a cellphone to film an 11-year-old boy as he occupied a bathroom stall at J.C. Penney in Central Mall in Texarkana, Texas. Jones allegedly admitted to also filming boys using bathrooms at Trinity Christian School in Texarkana, Ark., as well.
Earlier this year, Jones pleaded guilty in Bowie County to invasive visual recording in anticipation of a probated sentence. Jones was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea after 202nd District Judge John Tidwell refused to approve a plea bargain that includes probation and no jail time.
Texarkana lawyer Danny Cook, who represents Jones in pending criminal cases in Bowie County and Miller County, Ark., recently filed a motion asking for a change of venue in the Bowie County case. Cook's motion cites a "firestorm of excessive amounts of news coverage," as justification for moving the case to Rockwall County, Texas.
Attached to Cook's motion are copies of news articles—published in the Gazette and other media—and a local law enforcement agency's Facebook post concerning Jones' arrest. Other exhibits include affidavits signed by Bowie County residents who claim Jones cannot get a fair trial in Bowie County.
Motions to transfer venue have been granted in criminal cases in Bowie County in the past, but those cases differ from Jones' in the severity of their alleged offenses and possible punishment. The last Bowie County case to be tried in a different county involved a defendant accused of murder involving a Texarkana, Texas, police officer's death. Capital murder cases, including one where the death penalty was sought by Bowie County prosecutors, have been tried in neighboring jurisdictions.
Jones is charged with a state jail felony. The offense is punishable by six months to two years in a Texas state jail.
Cook said he has not determined whether he will file a similar motion in Miller County, where Jones is facing charges of voyeurism and video voyeurism. Jones faces up to six years in prison on each charge if convicted in Miller County.
Jones is scheduled to appear on different dates during July in Bowie County and Miller Counties. He is free on bond in both states but is ordered in the Bowie County to wear a GPS leg monitor and have no contact with minors.
Jones was fired from his teaching position at Trinity Christian School as a result of the allegations.