Suspects in Crystal Rogers murder case will get change of venue

Posted at 2:35 PM, March 21, 2024

BARDSTOWN, Ky. (Scripps News Lexington) — A judge heard arguments Thursday about why the suspects in a high-profile Kentucky murder case should be heard in another county.

A trial date has been set for all three suspects facing charges in connection to the 2015 disappearance of Crystal Rogers.

A trial date has been set for all three suspects facing charges in connection to the 2015 disappearance of Crystal Rogers. (Scripps News Lexington)

Brooks Houck, an ex-boyfriend of Crystal Rogers, was named by police as a suspect early on in the investigation. In 2015, months after Rogers’ disappearance, police released full videos of interviews they did with Houck. In 2023, Houck was charged with murder and tampering with evidence in Rogers’ death.

Joseph Lawson and his father, Steven Lawson, are also charged in the case, each facing counts of criminal conspiracy to commit murder and tampering with physical evidence.

Both Houck and Steven Lawson showed up to court in person Thursday. Joseph Lawson appeared over Zoom.

Houck’s attorneys have previously argued that the case was biased against Houck from the beginning. They also say that the community’s familiarity with the case and the “unabated media sensationalism” means the trial must be held in another media market to be fair.

The other defendants are also asking for the case to be moved to another county and for their cases to be handled separately.

The Commonwealth said in court on Thursday that they agreed a change of venue is needed in this case. Prosecutors say they will work with all the defense attorneys to see if they can agree on an alternate venue.

A hearing will be held on May 1 to tell the judge their recommendation. If they can’t come up with one, the judge will decide where it goes.

The judge said an alternate venue with a large courtroom would be necessary to provide space for the public and a separate entrance for jurors so they could be kept separate from the public.

Photo of Crystal Rogers

FILE – Crystal Rogers (NamUs)

Prosecutors have motioned to try all three defendants together, saying that the facts in each case are the same.

The Commonwealth will have eight weeks to respond to the defendants’ arguments against the three being tried together, and the defendants will then have an additional two weeks to reply to that response.

On June 13, the judge will hear verbal arguments at a review hearing on whether they will be tried together.

The Commonwealth says they’ve sent over all their discovery, aside from a few things, as the remaining discovery was much less than originally thought. Prosecutors initially thought there was about a terabyte of remaining discovery to send, but it was about 260 gigabytes.

This story was originally published by Scripps News Lexington, an E.W. Scripps Company.