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Court grants Adam Fravel change of venue in Madeline Kingsbury murder trial

Change of venue granted for man accused of killing Madeline Kingsbury
Change of venue granted for man accused of killing Madeline Kingsbury 00:24

WINONA, Minn. — A judge has granted a change of venue for the man accused of killing Madeline Kingsbury.

Kingsbury, 26, disappeared in March 2023 after dropping her two children off at daycare in Winona. In April 2023, police called her case suspicious and asked for the community's help with search efforts.

On June 7, 2023, Kingsbury's body was found in a field near Mabel, and about an hour away from Winona.

Adam Fravel, her ex-boyfriend and father of her children, was arrested two days later and charged with first- and second-degree murder in connection to her death.

Maddi Kingsbury
Madeline Kingsbury Kingsbury Family

When Kingsbury first disappeared, Fravel denied any involvement. He petitioned for custody of the two children before being charged, though a judge denied his request and the children were placed in the custody of Kingsbury's parents.

A criminal complaint alleges Fravel had a history of domestic violence against Kingsbury, including hitting her while she was on a video call with a friend and choking her in front of their children.

If convicted, Fravel could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Why was the venue change granted?

Experts say a change-of-venue for a trial is rare. It might be often requested, typically by defense attorneys, but rarely is it granted.

So how did it get approved in this case? Let's start with what the judge said about her decision: "Considering the extensive pretrial publicity and the substantial involvement of the Winona community in this case, a change of venue is warranted. It is evident to this Court that a fair trial cannot be ensured within this county."

The news and search effort are the evidence mentioned by the judge regarding publicity and community involvement.    

Intense media coverage included searches conducted by literally thousands of volunteers walking through a vast area, including fields and neighborhoods.

Adam Fravel Winona County Sheriff's Office

Winona County survey played major factor

Another key influence in the decision was a survey conducted by Fravel's defense team. They asked people in Winona County if they had heard about Kingsbury's disappearance and if they had formed an opinion about Fravel.

The judge referenced the survey's results, which showed overwhelmingly that people not only knew about the case but had formed an opinion about Fravel.

Which counties could now host Fravel's trial?

One could argue that no matter where you go in Minnesota, people will know about this case. But all you need is a jury of 12 people who know little to nothing about it.

WCCO spoke Thursday with defense attorney Joe Tamburino, who isn't connected to this case, for insight.

"You would be surprised that the farther you get away from the locality where the alleged crime happened, the less people really know about the case," Tamburino said. "Sure they might. Some people might follow it on the news or Twitter or something like that. But if you go up to Beltrami County, there might be a substantial number of people who really don't know anything about this case."

For anonymous, confidential help, people can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224.

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