JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) - A lawyer for a man accused of killing a priest says a campaign commercial for freshly re-elected Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has tainted the jury pool.
Jeremy Wayne Manieri is charged with robbing and killing the Rev. Ed Everitt of Hammond, La., in July.
According to The Associated Press, Manieri told police he shot Everitt after he woke up to find the priest fondling him.
Brian Alexander, the lawyer representing Manieri, told the AP that a commercial for Hood showed a photo of his client with a voiceover saying Hood's GOP opponent, Steve Simpson, let a "child molester" out of jail and then the child molester "murdered a 70-year-old priest in cold blood."
Simpson is a former circuit judge and an assistant district attorney, and served as the commissioner of the state's Department of Safety before making a run for Hood's seat.
Hood defeated Simpson by a wide margin in Tuesday's election to win his third term in office.
Alexander said Hood violated his oath as a lawyer and an elected official by telling viewers his client is a cold-blooded murderer when he has yet to be indicted on any charge.
"He has all but ensured that my client cannot receive a fair trial in the state of Mississippi. He has not only eroded the presumption of innocence -- attendant to all those who stand accused -- he destroyed it," Alexander told the AP.
Hood campaign manager Jonathan Compretta defended the ad, saying it did not publicly name Manieri and "merely stated facts from media reports."
"If the defendant wants a change of venue, then he should file his motion before the court at the proper time instead of trying his case in the media," Compretta said, according to the AP. "He is manipulating members of the media in an attempt to get more pretrial publicity to bolster his case."
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.