SANTA FE, Texas — A Galveston County judge granted the change of venue request Wednesday in the case of accused Santa Fe High School shooter Dimitrious Pagourtzis.
Both the prosecution and defense have been made aware of the decision, and they will back in court May 10 to determine where the trial will be moved.
Pagourtzis is accused of killing eight classmates and two teachers at Santa Fe High School last May.
Some victims' family members broke down when Pagourtzis walked into the courtroom.
“I was looking at him to see if I could see some remorse,” said Sonia Lopez, the mother of a shooting survivor. “And I didn’t get it.”
Survivors and victims’ families agreed changing venue is best.
“We don’t want them to have anything to say in regards to not being a fair trail,” said Lopez, whose daughter Sarah was shot.
“I was more worried that (the judge) would deny it, which I think would prolong things. So I was satisfied, actually, pretty happy.”
Their pain remains fresh. Eight students and two teachers died during the shooting at Santa Fe High School. Victim families and survivors dread re-living their losses in a trial. Certainly, none want to risk a re-trial.
“I don’t want there to ever be any question on this case,” said Flo Rice, who survived the May 18 shooting. “I believe no matter where it is the outcome will be the same.”
Her husband, Scot, prefers the trial never happens. With no death penalty possible, he wants Pagourtzis’ parents to change the teen’s plea, skip trial and go straight to sentencing.
“Forgo this trial and this torture for the citizens of Santa Fe and Texas and for the families that are going to have to travel and hear the horrible details of this crime," Scot Rice said.
Lopez said it is most important to see justice served. Her family and others plan to travel and hear every day of the potential trial, no matter where it happens.
The suspect's parents also wept when they saw him.
Pagourtzis' attorney asked the judge for a change of venue because he said his client can't get a fair trial in Galveston County.
Defense attorney Nicholas Poehl said there's a smaller jury pool available in Galveston County, so it would be tougher to find jurors who haven't already made up their minds about the case.
They blame bias, in part, on social media comments and even those made by political leaders following the incident.
“This case is the very type of case that is the reason we have a change of venue process in Texas,” said attorney Nicholas Poehl. “Because sometimes you just need to move the case.”
Prosecutors maintained the judge can adequately evaluate potential prejudice when it comes time to pick a jury. They cited other highly publicized cases where trials took place in the jurisdictions in which crimes were committed.
A judge will determine where the trial will be held in May.