Change of venue sought in Wagner police chief caseLAKE ANDES — An attorney requested a change of venue Tuesday in the case of the former Wagner police chief charged with concealing or failing to report his girlfriend’s methamphetamine use.
By: Candy DenOuden, The Daily Republic
LAKE ANDES — An attorney requested a change of venue Tuesday in the case of the former Wagner police chief charged with concealing or failing to report his girlfriend’s methamphetamine use.
Court-appointed defense attorney George Johnson, of Gregory, submitted an oral motion before Judge Patrick Kiner requesting the case be moved from Charles Mix County. The motion was presented at the county courthouse in Lake Andes.
Johnson, who represents former Wagner police chief Jim Chaney, said the change is necessary because of Chaney’s former role as a law enforcement officer and the “heavy” media coverage of the case. Chaney attended the proceeding but did not speak.
“My client has been a law enforcement officer and has arrested many members of the Charles Mix community,” Johnson said.
He also said many people in the community are “upset with the police department” regarding the matter and meth use. A 2-year-old girl, Rielee Lovell, died July 4 in a tribal housing project in rural Wagner while she was under the care of two adults, Taylor Cournoyer, 21, and Laurie Cournoyer, 28, who were allegedly using meth and other drugs. Since then, some community members have been speaking out about what they say is a meth epidemic in the area.
Johnson referenced Mitchell as a possible location to move Chaney’s case but did not specifically request it. Kiner said he will take the matter under advisement.
A jury trial has been set for Oct. 30-31. Chaney faces up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine if convicted.
Chaney was arrested July 25 on the charge of “misprision of a felony.” On Tuesday, Chaney pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge, which alleges Chaney had knowledge of someone who committed a felony and either concealed his knowledge or did not immediately report it to authorities.
Specifically, Chaney is accused of using a storage unit in his office at the Wagner Police Department to store needles his girlfriend apparently used to take meth.
Johnson told The Daily Republic recently that Chaney confronted his girlfriend on suspicions of drug use, after which she allegedly gave Chaney the needles.
The needles were allegedly stored at the police department until Chaney turned them over to agents with the state Division of Criminal Investigation, Johnson said.
Chaney resigned after he was charged with the crime.