Allen Scarsella, Black Lives Matter protest shooter, loses motion to move case

Allen Scarsella has been in jail for over a year after shooting five Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis.

Allen Scarsella has been in jail for over a year after shooting five Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis.

The man who shot five Black Lives Matter protesters outside the Fourth Police Precinct in Minneapolis last November suffered a loss in court Tuesday.

Attorneys for Allen Scarsella had requested that his case be moved to outside Hennepin County, arguing that the 24-year-old Lakeville man could not receive a fair trial in the metropolitan area.

As evidence, they pointed to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman's use of the words "sick" and "white supremacist" to describe Scarsella, who was one of four young men -- three white, one Asian -- to visit the protest site that had grown in the wake of Jamar Clark's police shooting death. 

Scarsella's lawyers had clamied a jury drawn from Hennepin, the state's most populous county, would be prejudiced against the defendant due to the amount of coverage his case had received from news outles and on social media. Freeman's office responded in late November, observing that some of the "news articles" Scarsella's attorneys highlighted were just Google searches for his name... which, yes, turned up stuff about Allen Scarsella. 

District Court judge Hilary Caliguri sided with the prosecution in a ruling published Tuesday, saying Scarsella's year-old case "has not generated massive pre-trial publicity requiring a change of venue."

That's partly because so little has happened: Routine pre-trial events have repeatedly been pushed back, often because the defense has sought additional time. This week, a hearing that had been scheduled for Monday afternoon was canceled and rescheduled for Wesdnesday.

The full trial for Scarsella, who has been in jail since his arrest in late November 2015, is scheduled to begin January 6. He faces six felony charges -- one for first-degree assault with a deadly weapon, four for second-degree assault, and one for second-degree "armed riot" --  for his actions that night, which left five people wounded. (All survived their injuries.) 

Scarsella's defense will hinge on the idea that he shot the protesters in an act of self defense: In court filings in June, his attorneys claimed he and his friends were "peaceably filming the protest" when they were "surrounded by an angry crowd" of anywhere from "a dozen to thirty members."