ST. CHARLES, Mo. — The Missouri Court of Appeals has ordered a former Missouri sheriff’s deputy accused of fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend in 2011 to stand trial for capital murder in suburban St. Louis’ St. Charles County.

A dispute arose over where Marvin Rice should be tried after other counties complained that they couldn’t afford to host the case or were unable to find qualified jurors. The appellate court intervened Monday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2tfNKRS ) reported.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the 49-year-old Rice. The former Dent County deputy is accused of killing 32-year-old Annette Durham and 39-year-old Steven Strotkamp after an argument over the custody of their son in December 2011. Rice has pleaded not guilty.

Court records show his trial began in February 2016 in Wayne County after one change of venue, but lawyers couldn’t find enough qualified jurors.

Both sides then agreed to move the trial to St. Charles County, just west of St. Louis. But in May, that county’s presiding judge, Rick Zerr, wrote in a letter to the Missouri Supreme Court that there was no courtroom available and no money, given that the county was expecting to host another capital murder trial.

Dent County Circuit Judge Kelly Parker agreed to move the case back to Salem in Dent County and have jurors chosen from St. Charles County to hear the case, but Rice’s attorneys argued on appeal that having the trial in Dent County would put Rice’s former colleagues in charge of the jury and in a situation where “local law enforcement has an interest in the outcome.”

Lawyers for the Missouri attorney general’s office also said Parker lacked the authority to move the trial to Dent County.

On Monday, Presiding Judge Lawrence Mooney of the Missouri Court of Appeals’ eastern district ordered Parker to vacate his ruling, finding that state law is clear that the court has no authority to move the trial again.


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com