No Change of Venue for Hot Lotto Fraud Trial

The trial of a former Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) employee accused of Hot Lotto fraud will not be moved to a different venue despite concerns from the prosecution that media coverage of the case might influence jurors. Eddie Raymond Tipton is alleged to have bought a ticket in Iowa, which went on to win a jackpot of $14.3 million, and later attempted to cash it in, both of which he was forbidden from doing due to his role as security director for MUSL.

The trial was scheduled to begin last month, but was then pushed back to 13th July after taking a new twist when 500 pages of new evidence were presented by the prosecution, alleging that Tipton had rigged the draw by tampering with the lottery operator’s random number generator. A motion to have this new theory thrown out of court was dismissed but Tipton’s legal team were given another three months to prepare.

The prosecution and defence teams have since been at loggerheads over where the trial should take place. Assistant Iowa Attorney General Robert Sand filed a motion to move the venue out of the viewing area of television station KCCI on the grounds of a report on 13th April which featured an interview with defence attorney Dean Stowers.

In the interview, Stowers insisted that video footage from the QuickTrip shop at which the ticket was purchased could not be proved to be Tipton. He explained that the man in the video had a full beard, and showed photos of a clean-shaven Tipton alleged to have been taken in the months before and after the ticket was bought. Sand argued that jurors who had seen the photos might have recollections of the story that were ‘biased by defence counsel’.

According to a court document filed on Monday and reported by the Des Moines Register, District Judge Jeffrey Farrell wrote: “Stowers' statements to the media increased the likelihood that pretrial publicity could impact the State's fair trial rights," but "the court believes these statements can be managed through the voir dire process."

The voir dire process involves potential jurors being set questions to determine if they are suitable for a particular case, and Farrell ‘does not believe a change in venue is appropriate at this time’. However, both legal teams have been warned that all media interviews will continue to be carefully scrutinised and if anything is done to risk the fair trial rights of either party there could still be a move to a new venue in a different county.

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Article Last Modified: Tuesday, 6 November 2018 15:54:43+01:00
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