Sylvester Trotter

Judge denies man’s request to move trial

Trotter argued county too white


A judge disagreed last week with a 31-year-old man who argued that he cannot receive a fair trial in Greene County because he is black and the jurors will likely be white, court records show.

The judge denied Sylvester Lovell Trotter’s request to move his trial to another county with a larger minority population. He is charged with felony third-offense operating while intoxicated and faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

“The court cannot and will not find that a fair and impartial jury cannot be found among citizens of a different ethnic group than defendant,” District Associate Judge Joseph McCarville wrote in his Friday ruling. “If this motion is to be granted then no minority could ever be tried in Greene County or most Iowa counties for that matter.”

A former Carroll resident who now lives in Chicago, Trotter and the witnesses who are expected to testify in his defense are black.

His attorney, John Dirks, of Ames, asked McCarville to move the trial to another county because “African-Americans comprise just .3 percent of the population” of Greene County.

“It is unlikely there will be more than one person of color in Mr. Trotter’s jury pool,” Dirks wrote in his June request. “And it will be nearly impossible to achieve any relief if no persons of color are impaneled in his jury.”

McCarville also denied a request to nullify the evidence against Trotter, which Dirks argued was improperly obtained when Trotter was illegally detained before his arrest.

A Jefferson police officer arrested Trotter in March at Sparky’s One Stop after someone reported that he was driving erratically. 

Trotter allegedly stopped the car at the convenience store, and the officer approached and noticed an open can of beer. Trotter was among three people in the car.

Trotter said the vehicle had not been driven erratically and that he had not been driving the vehicle, and he declined to provide a breath or urine sample to test for intoxication after the officer said he smelled of alcohol and marijuana.

His trial is set for Nov. 5.

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