Deshaun Hill shooting: Change of venue requested days before trial begins

Defense lawyers for the man accused of fatally shooting Minneapolis North student-athlete Deshaun Hill have requested a change of venue just four days before his trial is set to begin, citing concerns over a new Showtime documentary featuring the athlete.

Cody Fohrenkam is facing a charge of second-degree intentional murder for the February shooting of Hill, blocks from the North High campus. After the trial was previously pushed back, jury selection scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Jan. 17.

Defense lawyers filed the motion in court on Friday requesting Fohrenkam’s trial be held outside of Hennepin County, citing there couldn't be a fair trial given the recent release of the four-part documentary series "Boys in Blue," which follows the Minneapolis North Community High School football team during the 2021 season and talks about Hill's death.

"The documentary is much more emotionally impactful than the initial reporting on the crime and will be especially impactful on the jury pool in Hennepin County," the motion reads.

The Showtime documentary, released on Jan. 6, features Hill throughout the episodes, but the finale focuses on the athlete’s death and the aftermath of the shooting. The motion states the final episode also mentions Fohrenkam by name and shows his photo.

The defense said Showtime is set to air each episode of the documentary weekly, including when the trial is set to start. They added the publicity would "affect the minds and attitudes of the jury" and the risk of bias is high given the airing of new episodes. However, all four episodes are currently available to watch online. 

"Mr. Fohrenkam cannot have a fair trial in Hennepin County because of the local prejudices, feelings, and opinions specifically related to the release of the Showtime documentary, and the Court must allow him to be tried in a jurisdiction outside Hennepin County," the motion reads. 

The defense had previously requested a change of venue in September, but a judge denied it.