Former officer Lee Coel’s trial moved from Charlotte to Lee County

Writer: Derrick Shaw
FILE Photo of former Punta Gorda Police Officer Lee Coel and Librarian Mary Knowlton from December 2016. Credit: WINK News.

The trial for a former police officer who shot and killed a retired librarian is moving out of Charlotte County

We confirmed Lee Coel’s trial will happen in Lee County, and Judge Margaret Steinbeck of Florida’s 20th Judicial Circuit Court order the jury be picked in Lee as well.

Coel, a former Punta Gorda police officer, shot Mary Knowlton during a “shoot, don’t shoot” demonstration in August 2016. Coel thought he loaded the gun with blanks but put real bullets in the gun instead.

Coel’s attorney argued too many people in Charlotte County have been exposed to the case and formed negatives opinions of their client. They still hope to get the trial moved out of Southwest Florida altogether, but Judge Steinbeck has denied those requests so far.

MORE: Former officer accused of manslaughter denied motion to recuse judge

The trial is tentatively scheduled for October 15, but Coel’s attorneys have asked it be moved until the beginning of 2020.



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