Volusia County judge OKs change of venue for accused cop-killer Othal Wallace

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The man accused of killing a Daytona Beach police officer in 2021 won’t stand trial in Volusia County.


A judge granted Othal Wallace’s change of venue request at the Volusia County branch jail Friday morning.

Wallace’s attorneys referred to the media attention surrounding the case and public comments made by other remembers of law enforcement as grounds for why Wallace couldn’t receive a fair trial in Volusia County.

READ: DeLand woman accused of setting her home on fire

Judge Raul Zambrano  ultimately agreed, saying it would take longer to find a jury than to move the trial to another county. Which county will host Wallace’s potential death penalty trial remains up for debate.

“I think you look at the whole picture and say, well, this area is similarly situated to Volusia County, and because we’re going to have the same type of jurors, then we should move it there,” Wallace Attorney Terry Shoemaker said during Friday’s hearing.

Wallace’s defense team suggested Alachua, Leon or Broward counties. His attorneys asked the judge to consider an area with similar racial demographics and financial resources as Volusia County.

However, the state wants the trial to stay in the seventh circuit, which also covers Flagler, Putnam and St. Johns counties.

READ: Florida Dept. of Health issues swimming advisory for Cocoa Beach Pier due to fecal bacteria

The state asked for St. Johns County, but Judge Zambrano said he needed more time to research the best possible location.

“That’s just one component of what I have to deal with,” Zambrano said. “Second component of what I have to deal with is whether that county can welcome this kind of trial.”

Wallace is accused of shooting and killing Daytona Beach Police Officer Jason Raynor in 2021 while Raynor was responding to a report of a suspicious incident near Kingston Ave.

The case quickly garnered public interest, a point noted in the motion to move the trial. The document details statements made by both Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood and Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young.

READ: ‘No regard for human life’: Police search for man accused of kidnapping, raping DoorDash driver

Wallace’s team also requested to delay the trial from its scheduled start in July to October, citing new evidence.

“We don’t feel we have enough time to investigate those matters and litigate those matters prior to trial,” Wallace’s attorney argued.

Judge Zambrano and the state agreed to delay until September.

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

Comments on this article