A change of venue hearing was held Thursday, January 24 in regards to the indictments of Llano County jailers, Scottie Scoggins and supervisor Donny Stewart.
Scoggins was charged with a first degree felony, for ‘knowingly or recklessly, by omission’ causing the injuries to an inmate in August of 2011. Stewart was given a lesser charge of second degree felony for ‘recklessly, by omission’ causing the injuries to 45-year-old Shawn Michael Appell. Appell was found dead in his cell at approximately 5:35 p.m. on August 6, 2011.
According to the indictments, Llano County jailers Scottie Scoggins and Donny Stewart allegedly caused serious bodily injury to Appell by failing to stop Appell from injuring himself, failing to restrain him, failing to seek emergency medical care after the injuries occurred, and failing to provide medical care after he re-injured himself.
Defense attorneys Nina Willis and Richard Davis fought to keep the trial in Llano County. Both Scoggins and Stewart are long-time residents of Llano County. Meanwhile, Attorney Raphael Guerrero from the Attorney General's office argued for the state that both defendants would receive a fair trial in another county. Appell's mother, Shirley Appell, took the stand and stated "I want my son's case tried on the merit of the law and not how he lived, but how he died".
Ultimately, Judge Dan Mills ruled that the jailers would be tried in Llano County if "a fair jury can be selected". The decision of whether or not to grant a change of venue came down to the question of would the defendants be able to get a fair trial in Llano County, and Judge Mills deemed it possible.
A jury trial is scheduled to begin March 25, 2013 in front of Judge Dan Mills.