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Quake Lewellyn’s lawyers prep death penalty defense, file motion to change venue in Sydney Sutherland kidnapping, murder case



JACKSON COUNTY, Ark. – The defense team representing the man charged in the kidnapping, rape and murder of an Arkansas jogger filed nearly 50 motions Thursday in a move that will set the stage for a death penalty defense.

Quake Lewellyn, 28, faces capital murder, kidnapping, rape and abuse of a corpse charges after 25-year-old Sydney Sutherland was found dead after going for a run in August of 2020.

Lewellyn’s defense team, including prominent Little Rock lawyers Bill James and Jeff Rosenzweig, filed 48 different motions Thursday in Jackson County Circuit Court.“What happened was a horrible accident and nothing about it was intentional,” said James.

The motions were filed after prosecutor Ryan Cooper did not waive the death penalty in the case.

In a phone conversation Friday, Cooper confirmed he was “absolutely” pursuing the death penalty against Lewellyn.

In an exclusive interview that happened in March, Sutherland’s mother, Maggy Sutherland, said she wanted Lewellyn to face the death penalty.

“As of right now, I’m going to say yes,” she said. The Sutherlands said they don’t think they’ll find a day to forgive Lewellyn.

“Lewellyn asserts that the minds of the inhabitants of Jackson County are so prejudiced against him, that a fair and impartial trial cannot be held in Jackson County,” the motion states.
The defense argued that yard signs, billboards, the dedication of the Highway 67/167 overpass and community events, such as the prayer vigil held a month after Sutherland was found dead, would make it impossible to hold a fair trial in Jackson County.

The court will have a hearing on July 6.
Jury selections are scheduled to begin September 28.

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