Judge Terry Rickers granted a motion filed separately by Marc and Misty Ray, who stand accused of 17 charges related to the death of their 16-year-old, adopted daughter, Sabrina Ray, to change the venue out of Dallas County.
The motion was granted during a hearing on Wednesday, Aug. 22 at the Dallas County Courthouse.
Attorneys for Marc and Misty Ray asked for the trial to be moved out of Dallas County because of the extensive media coverage in the Central Iowa area, along with a heavy social media presence surrounding the case.
The State of Iowa argued that the media coverage would follow the case even if it was moved. They asked the court to deny the change of venue case as they believed a fair and impartial trial could happen in Dallas County.
Judge Rickers disagreed, because the extensive media coverage in the case has apparently caused potential jurors to decide a verdict before the case is even tried.
"I find it necessary to change the venue to a location outside of Central Iowa," he said.
The decision comes, Judge Rickers said, as he finds it difficult to have a fair and impartial trial in Dallas County.
While the court has no control over where the case will be tried, he said his recommendation would be to try it on the western or eastern borders of the state.
Marc Ray filed a motion on Thursday, March 8 to have his trial moved out of Dallas County. Misty Bousman-Ray followed suit with a similar motion on Friday, March 16.
In an earlier story, court documents reveal that the change is requested due to the extensive media coverage in the Des Moines area and that “a number of potential jurors from Dallas County, Iowa have already formed or expressed an opinion as to the guilty of the defendant which disqualifies them as potential jurors.”
The document sites 111 news articles in the Des Moines area, including 24 by The Perry Chief, that mention Marc Ray and the incident. In contrast, the document states that when searching for the case on other media websites, including the Omaha World Herald, Sioux City Journal, Cedar Rapids Gazette, Quad City Times and the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, the search returned no more than seven results on each website.
Marc, and his wife, Misty Bousman-Ray, were arrested on May 18, 2017 after their adopted 16-year-old daughter was found deceased in the family’s home at 1708 First Avenue, which was also the home of Rays of Sunshine Daycare. Marc and Misty were allegedly in Florida on vacation at the time of Sabrina’s death.
Originally, Marc and Misty were charged with one count of child endangerment resulting in death, four counts of child endangerment resulting in serious injury and three counts of neglect or abandonment of a dependant person. On Oct. 3, Marc and Misty were additionally charged with first-degree murder and Marc was additionally charged with second- and third-degree sexual abuse.
Three additional charges were filed in the Dallas County Courthouse on Wednesday, May 2. The charges include ongoing criminal conduct - unlawful activity, first degree theft and first degree fraudulent practice.
Keep watching the Perry Chief's website for more details on the Aug. 22 hearing.