Pretrial Publicity Cited In Change
U.S. District Judge Ashley Royal ruled Wednesday that the amount of media coverage in the Macon and Atlanta areas would make it difficult to find an unbiased jury in those areas.
York is the leader of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, a religious sect that moved from New York to a 476-acre farm in Putnam County in 1993.
On May 8, 2002, York, 58, was arrested and charged with both state and federal child sex crimes. He pleaded guilty to 74 counts of child molestation and other related charges.
He also pleaded guilty to one federal count of transporting children across state lines for sexual purposes in return for a recommendation that he serve 15 years in prison.
But U.S. District Court Judge Hugh Lawson rejected the plea bargain, saying 15 years in prison would be too lenient. York’s attorneys had asked Royal to move the trial to Atlanta, saying that the size of the population would dilute the impact of news reports.
The trial could start as soon as January, although York’s lawyers have asked for more time to prepare their defense.