Venue change in DUI death case
Duane John to stand trial in Lafayette County
Wednesday, August 7, 2013 1:00 AM
A circuit court judge has ordered a change of venue in the trial of a Neshoba County man indicted earlier this year on six counts of DUI-manslaughter in connection with the deaths of his five children and an adult family friend last year.
The trial of Duane John Sr., 34, of 10270 Road 604, is scheduled for Sept. 24 at 9 a.m. in Lafayette County.
In filing a motion with the court for a change of venue, John said he could not receive a fair trial in Neshoba County, citing "widespread publicity" by both word of mouth and the media.
The DUI-manslaughter case was picked up by the media on the national level, John said in the motion that was granted by Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon.
John was indicted last May in the deaths of his children: Daisyanna John, 9; Duane John Jr., 8; Bobby John, 7; Quinton John, 4; and Kekambas John, 18 months; and family friend Diane Chickaway, 37, of 1017 Fox Trail Road.
The six died on Dec. 29 when the Dodge Durango in which they were traveling in left the roadway and was submerged in a creek near the Neshoba-Newton County line on Road 107 about 20 miles southwest of Philadelphia shortly after 12:30 a.m.
John, the driver, the children's mother, Deanna Jim, 28, of 10270 Road 604, and Dale Chickaway, 37, of 1017 Fox Trail Road, escaped serious injury in the incident.
John was charged two days later after being released from the county hospital where he had been treated for hypothermia.
Neshoba County Sheriff Tommy Waddell said it appeared that none of the children were in child restraints and that none of the adults were wearing seat belts.
All of the victims were members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and lived in the Pearl River community.
In seeking a change of venue, John said the "publicity, coupled with the fact that the victims were his own children, has aroused a hostile public opinion toward and against the defendant, creating within Neshoba County a great and widespread popular demand for the defendant's conviction."
John said in the motion that it would be impossible to select a jury from the residents of Neshoba County that would not be uninfluenced.
Daisyanna John, a third grader at Pearl River Elementary School, loved riding her bike and singing.
Her brother, Duane Jr., also in the third grade, loved to play games on his Playstation and ride his bike.
Bobby, 7, and Quinton, 4, loved to play the drums and play together outside.
Bobby was a first grader and Quinton was in pre-kindergarten.
The youngest child, Kekambas, 19 months, loved to play with his toys.