Change of venue granted in LaFuria case - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Change of venue granted in LaFuria case

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

A judge has granted a change of venue in the ongoing court case of Dr. Peter LaFuria, the OB/GYN doctor accused of taking explicit pictures of patients without their permission and other charges.

Judge David Ritchie heard motions and held a mock jury selection last month.  He issued his rulings today in state district court.

The trial will be moved outside the Lake Charles area. And key evidence like a camera, pictures of nude patients and statements made by the doctor can be used against him.

The case of ob gyn Dr. Peter LaFuria started in 2007 after the late Brandi Skye Taylor saw him  allegedly taking pictures of her without her knowledge or consent while she was undergoing an exam. In a mock jury selection, the judge found almost everybody has heard about the case and many have negative feelings about LaFuria.

So, Ritchie has granted the defense motion for a change of venue. Defense Attorney Glen Vamvoras is pleased. "For us to try to pick a jury only to learn that everyone has  heard about the case would be a waste of time and money and the prudent thing to do is move it out of the parish where we can maybe find a jury pool that maybe hasn't been quite so influenced by the media."
 
However, First Assistant D.A. Cynthia Killingsworth had argued that just because people had heard about the case did not mean they couldn't be objective. "I had hoped that we'd be able to stay here. I  really, really, really hoped that we would be able to stay here for the victims.  But I also understand Judge Ritchie's ruling because a lot of people know about this case in this parish, so we'll just have to go someplace else to pick a jury."

Also Judge Ritchie ruled evidence the defense said was illegally seized can be used. The judge agreed the doctor's truck where the camera and computer disks were found were not covered by investigators' search warrant-- but he found there was probable cause and an emergency situation because of red flags suggesting evidence might get destroyed.  Explained Killingsworth, "The truck had left.  They had learned the defendant had planned to go fishing. Well you know what happens in big bodies of water.  You can certainly destroy evidence."

But Vamvoras disagreed.  "You can speculate all you want but the law requires more than speculation.  There has to be some factual evidence of that and there's not."

The defense will go to the Third Circuit to try to get the incriminating pictures and camera found in the truck thrown out. 
 
There are an estimated 222 alleged victims in the case--  and 269 charges against Lafuria.  He was indicted on 186 counts of video voyeurism, 78 counts of sexual battery and five counts of molestation of a juvenile. 

There's a lot more to the rulings and attorneys' reactions. Check out our web extras with Killingsworth and Vamvoras.

LaFuria has been out on bond since 2007.

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