No change of venue in Cochran case

By Jerry DeRoche
CRYSTAL FALLS—By its very nature, the case of the 2014 murder of Christopher Regan is sensationalistic and has all the elements of a true crime book or a television mini-series.
    Throw in the drama concerning the recent dismissal Iron River Police Chief Laura Frizzo, the lead investigator in the matter, and one could certainly wonder if the person charged in Regan’s death, 34-year-old Kelly Marie Cochran, would be able to get a fair trial in Iron County.
    That was the crux of the argument defense attorney Michael Scholke made during a hearing for change of venue Jan. 26 in Iron County Trial Court. After Scholke and Prosecuting Attorney Melissa Powell’s arguments, Judge Richard Celello denied the defense’s motion to change the venue and said all attempts will be made to seat a jury in Iron County.
    “I’ve carefully considered this issue and reviewed all the press reports and social media,” said Celello, who is presiding over the trial for Iron County Judge C. Joseph Schwedler, who is on medical leave. “I believe that the folks here in Iron County should be given the opportunity to have a jury selected from the citizens of this county, and I’m confident that we’re going to be able to do that.”
    “With respect to Miss Frizzo, (jurors) are going to be told that anything surrounding Miss Frizzo is not an issue in this case, that Miss Frizzo is a police officer that investigated the case and her testimony should be judged by the same standards as any other police officer or witness.”
    The trial of Cochran, an Indiana native who lived in Caspian at the time of Regan’s murder, is scheduled to begin Feb. 13. It has been slated to last three weeks. The trial may still be moved if attempts to find an impartial jury are unsuccessful.
    Cochran is accused of helping her late husband, Jason Cochran, kill Regan, who was 53 years old at the time of his death in October 2014. She is also charged with second-degree home invasion, conspiracy to commit dead bodies–disinterment and mutilation, concealing the death of an individual, lying to a peace officer in a violent crime investigation and accessory after the fact to a felony.
    Cochran is also facing a murder charge in Lake County, Ind., in the February 2016 death of her husband.  
    During the hearing on Jan. 26, Powell stated that Cochran has claimed that she only participated in the aftermath of Regan’s murder because her husband was abusive and she was afraid of him.
    Scholke opened the hearing by making his case for a change of venue. He said that the pretrial publicity from traditional media and on social media in his client’s case, as well as the Frizzo matter, would make it very hard to seat a jury in Iron County.

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