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Woman in Darnell Gray death case requests venue change

A Jefferson City woman charged in the death of a 4-year-old boy is seeking a change of venue.

Quatavia Givens’ public defender on Sunday filed a motion seeking the change in the case involving the death of 4-year-old Darnell Gray, according to online court records. Police have said Givens was Gray’s caregiver. The boy’s body was found in some woods near a residential area of Jefferson City in late October after several days of searching.

The motion cites pretrial publicity in newspapers, on radio and on TV news stations that Givens’ lawyer claims has influenced views about the case. The motion also cites social media groups and comments that show bias against Givens.

“Due to the nature and volume of media coverage, the Defendant believes that she will be unable to select an unbiased jury from a panel in Cole County,” public defender Taylor Elswick writes in the motion.

Givens initially told police that Gray had been abducted or run away from her home on Buena Vista Street, touching off days of searches by police, first responders and volunteers. Givens told police that she hit Gray, according to a probable cause statement, and confirmed for them the location of the body before it was public knowledge.

Police said an autopsy showed Gray’s body had signs of sharp- and blunt-force trauma.

Her arraignment is set for Jan. 9 before Judge Patricia Joyce.

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