Trial begins for murder of 6-year-old Layla Jones - WNEM TV 5

Trial begins for murder of 6-year-old Layla Jones

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The trial for Michael Lawrence and Rico Saldana began today in a Saginaw County courtroom.

Judge Darnell Jackson is presiding over the case for charges related to the drive-by shooting death of 6-year-old Layla Jones in August 2012.

Before jury selection could start, Judge Jackson addressed a motion by Lawrence's attorney William White to move the trial to another venue.

White states "excessive coverage" of Michael Lawrence in both this trial and his murder case involving the killing of his former girlfriend, Angelica Olivarez as a reason that his client would not be able to get a fair trial.

Saldana's attorney Jim Piazza concurred but Judge Jackson disagreed – citing the Ken Bleuw trial at evidence that defendants in a high profile case can still get a fair trial.

In a separate motion, White asked that the trials be separated because Lawrence and Saldana had two very different accounts of what happened on the day Jones was shot and killed.

Prosecutors quickly pointed out that neither defendant planned to testify and point the finger at anyone else - so therefore White's motion was a moot point. The judge did not grant White's motion.

Finally, Lawrence asked the judge to replace his court appointed attorney with someone who the family had retained for him in his other murder trial, but Judge Jackson reminded Lawrence that his other attorney had only signed up to represent him in his other trial.

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