Circuit Judge Rob Ratton has granted a change of venue motion from attorneys for Quake Lewellyn to move his murder trial from Jackson County to Lawrence County.
Lewellyn, 28, is charged with capital murder in the August 2020 death of Sydney Sutherland, a 24-year-old nurse from Tuckerman.
“Based on the extensive publicity and media interest this case has attracted, it would be difficult if not impossible to assemble a fair and impartial jury in Jackson County,” Judge Ratton stated in his order.
Lewellyn’s attorneys cited social media posts in the motion.
The Jackson County Quorum Court in April voted to name an overpass on Jackson Road 41, near where she was last jogging, in Sutherland’s honor.
Court documents show Lewellyn told a mental health professional that he struck the woman with his truck while checking wells in the area.
Though he was “scared and afraid,” he then loaded Sutherland’s body into the tailgate of his truck and drove her to a rice field, where he planned to bury her, according to reports. Lewellyn confessed to “trying to mess with her” before burying her.
The victim’s iPhone was found in a field along Jackson 41 South. Sutherland’s body was found yards away from where Lewellyn’s phone pinged following a two-day search by law enforcement and hundreds of community volunteers, a document states.
Lewellyn is being held without bond on charges of capital murder, kidnapping, rape and abuse of a corpse.