WATERLOO — Trial for the father of one of the abducted cousins has been moved out of Black Hawk County because of publicity over the girls’ disappearance.
District Court Judge David Staudt ruled that it would be unlikely to find an impartial jury in the state’s domestic abuse and drug cases against Daniel Eugene Morrissey, 36.
In a ruling signed Monday, Staudt ordered Morrissey’s trials be moved to Davenport in Scott County.
He noted the results a questionnaire presented to residents found a substantial number had heard or read a great deal about the missing girls and Morrissey.
“The court further finds that the juror questionnaire results reveal that a substantial portion of the potential jurors in Black Hawk County have reached a fixed opinion concerning Mr. Morrissey’s guilt or innocence and would be unable to fairly assess the facts in his case,” Staudt wrote in his ruling.
He also noted that the disappearance was voted the top story in the Cedar Valley in 2012 and the survey was administered before the girls’ remains were found.
A Jan. 18 hearing has been scheduled to work out the details and set trial dates.
Morrissey, of Waterloo, is the father of Lyric Cook-Morrissey, who was 10 when she and her cousin, 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins, disappeared in July while riding their bikes in Evansdale. Their bodies were discovered at Seven Bridges Wildlife Area in rural Bremer County in December.
No one has been charged in their deaths.
At the time of the disappearance, Morrissey was awaiting trial for methamphetamine and domestic abuse, and his attorney, Kevin Schoeberl, argued coverage of the abduction hampered Morrissey’s ability of receive a fair trial in Black Hawk County.
Morrissey is facing four trials, and Staudt ordered that the first to go will be a case stemming from an October 2011 incident where found he was allegedly found inside a vacant home with meth.