Judge nixes venue change for Monteiro
KINGMAN - A judge on Friday denied a bid by a lawyer for a former Operation Picture Perfect defendant to have his new case moved outside of Mohave County because of the publicity of the 2008 case.
Manuel Rodriguez Monteiro Jr.'s lawyer, Barshauda Robinson, argued that her client wouldn't be able to get a fair trial because of the coverage by the media in the Picture Perfect case. Monteiro, 35, was one of 18 defendants arrested in April 2008 as part of a major methamphetamine ring bust. He pleaded guilty pursuant to Alford to conspiracy to sell dangerous drugs and received three years probation.
Monteiro was arrested again in April of this year for three counts of sale of dangerous drugs as part of an operation targeting street-level dealers dubbed "Kingman Sweep." Robinson said that more than three-dozen articles published in the Miner between the initial arrests and the last trial in the Picture Perfect case earlier this year amounted to a pervasive coverage that would amount to an unfair trial.
Prosecutor Greg McPhillips countered that Monteiro's name and picture appeared in only a handful of the stories, and only one mentioned the charges to which he pleaded guilty. He added that jurors in the new case would be drawn from all over Mohave County, including Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City, which are outside of the Miner's circulation area.
Judge Steven Conn said that even with the information available online, there are likely numerous people in the county who have never heard Monteiro's name associated with the Operation Picture Perfect case. He added that those who have heard of the case and had already formed an opinion about the defendant would be weeded out during jury selection.
Monteiro is one of 75 people arrested as part of a tri-city sweep targeting street-level dealers earlier this year. He faces three counts of selling methamphetamine for three separate instances in mid-April. He faces additional charges for violating his probation sentence stemming from his plea in the Picture Perfect case.