Change of venue granted in Paris murder trial

Paris – A change of venue motion is granted in the trials of two men accused in the September 16 death of Brandon McClelland, of Paris.

A judge ruled Thursday that the two Caucasian defendants, Shannon Finley and Charles Crostley, will be tried separately in Sulphur Springs, instead of Paris.

Authorities says McClelland, an African American, was run over and dragged 70 feet by a pickup truck after the three men went on a late-night beer run across the Oklahoma border.

McClelland's family and others have alleged that his death was racially motivated and compared it to the notorious dragging death of James Byrd 11 years ago in Jasper, in East Texas.

The judge granted Crostley a separate trial from Finley. Finley was charged with murder in 2003 and eventually pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Last November, a rally was held at the Paris courthouse where about 200 protesters, including members of the New Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam, spoke out against the county's judicial system.