DAWSONVILLE — The reported triggerman in the November shooting death of a popular youth sports coach who grew up in Forsyth County has requested a change of venue for his murder trial.
Attorneys for Herman James "Bo" Seppenfield believe a jury in Dawson County would be tainted by the publicity the case has drawn locally and across the region.
"Local and statewide newspapers have published and circulated articles describing the acts with which [Seppenfield] is charged, and such reports have included significant portions of documentary and hearsay evidence to defendant, the admissibility of which has not been considered by this honorable court," according to the motion filed May 15 by Attorney Richard Stepp.
Similar reports have appeared online and been broadcasted on radio and TV in Dawson County and surrounding areas, which he said "has the potential of severely prejudicing" his client.
Seppenfield has been incarcerated since his Dec. 6 arrest. He is charged with felony murder, malice murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony crime.
The charges stem from a Nov. 22 fight on Whitney Place off Dawson Forest Road in southeastern Dawson County that ended in gunfire.
Brandon Weaver, 37 and a 1995 graduate of South Forsyth High School, was hit twice at close range, once in the chest and once in the side.
Authorities say Seppenfield fired the deadly shots.
"The alleged victim was a well-known citizen and property owner in this county, with high public visibility, and his alleged murder may evoke great passion and prejudice in this community," Stepp claims.
Weaver, a father of three known throughout the community as a volunteer parks and recreation coach, died on the scene, a short time after first responders arrived.
Trying Seppenfield in Dawson County, "where the community feeling could be found to be strongly against him, could violate his right to a fair trial by impartial jury, according to Stepp.
The fight reportedly started when Weaver and another man arrived at the Whitney Place home to confront the people living there.
Authorities said Weaver's son had been at a birthday party at the home several hours earlier that evening and had called home to say he wanted to leave.
According to Dawson County Sheriff's Capt. Tony Wooten, the child felt uncomfortable about something going on at the party.
When Weaver and another man attempted to confront the adults holding the party, the verbal confrontation escalated and shots were fired, according to officials.
Seppenfield has also petitioned to have his statements to authorities suppressed and his criminal case severed from that of his co-defendant.
Tory Jude Miguez, 25, was charged with aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during a felony crime in connection with the fight.
In February, attorneys for Miguez filed a motion for immunity from the aggravated assault charges against him, citing Georgia law that states "a person who uses threats or force against another under circumstances in which he is justified ... shall be immune from prosecution."
According to court records, Miguez "contends that he was justified in using force against Alan Brandon Weaver" the night of Nov. 22.
Both defendants have entered not guilty pleas and are set to be in court June for calendar call.
Their trials are scheduled for the weeks of Aug. 10 and Sept. 14, according to court records.