Northwood murder trial moved to Fort Dodge

Published 5:52 pm Wednesday, November 6, 2013

NORTHWOOD — The trial of a Northwood man accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death in August will be moved to Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Tyrone Washington Jr.

Tyrone Washington Jr.

Worth County District Court Judge Colleen Weiland on Wednesday granted a change of venue for Tyrone Washington Jr.

The trial is slated to begin June 2, 2014, in Webster County District Court.

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Washington, 39, faces a charge of first-degree murder in the Aug. 5 stabbing death of Justina Marie Smith, 30, in Swensrud Park.

Washington and his public defender Susan Flander argued because Worth County is a predominantly white community, Washington, who is black, could not get a fair trial.

Washington said he has been called racist names and other African-Americans in town have been threatened since he was arrested.

They attributed news reports from area media outlets as being prejudicial and of convicting Washington of a crime before his trial.

Fort Dodge is 80 miles southwest of Northwood, and residents there get TV reception from Des Moines. The driving distance is 113 miles and takes about 95 minutes to travel. It has a 2010 census count of 25,206, with 5.5 percent black and 5 percent Hispanic.