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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview with William Ward, Mayor of Chesapeake, Virginia

Aired July 2, 2003 - 20:26   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: One of the D.C. area sniper suspects is getting a change of venue for his trial saying it was necessary for a fair trial. A judge today agreed to move the case of Lee Boyd Malvo from the Washington suburbs to Chesapeake, Virginia. Now venue changes is certainly make an impact on the case. You may remember the four LAPD officers accused of beating Rodney King may have gained an advantage when their trial was shifted that. Was cased moved from L.A. to Simi Valley a community known for it's especially high concentration of police officers. Perhaps not surprisingly officers were originally found not guilty.
Could there be a similar impact in the Malvo case?

I am joined by Chesapeake Mayor, William Ward, inside the city council chambers.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to be with us.

WILLIAM WARD, MAYOR OF CHESAPEAKE: Thank you, Paula, nice to have you.

ZAHN: Thank you. Is this your town's worst nightmare having this trial come to you?

WARD: Well, on the one hand, yes. But on the other hand, no. We have a pool of jurors here. We have, I think, reconciled ourselves to the fact that the trial is coming to Chesapeake and we began to plan for the trial which will begin in November of this year. Certainly, we did have and still have some concerns about parking and safety and security and the interruption it may cause to the everyday flow of business here at city hall and throughout the municipal complex and costs. Those are some of our concerns. But hopefully, by November we'll have worked out those issues. In fact, we're beginning now to mobilize our forces here in the public works and public safety departments to make sure we comply with the court's request. And once we know all of their needs, we'll be able to do what they need.

ZAHN: You're moving pretty fast because you just got that news today.

What would you say is your main worry tonight?

WARD: Well, the main concern, as I said, would be certainly cost. The logistics of parking, access to the courts and also access to the municipal complex on the part of our citizens. We have about 500 city employees working here in the complex, both city hall and in the courts and we want to make sure that they are not disrupted or interrupted nor are citizens who come here on a daily basis for business with the city.

ZAHN: We tried to do research today to figure out the demographics of your town and this is what we came up with, and you can challenge me on it if this is not correct. But two-thirds white and almost one-third black.

Is that a fair characterization in the makeup of your town and if so, do you think Mr. Malvo can get a fair trial?

WARD: Well, to answer your second question, yes, I am sure he will get a fair trial here. We have a pool of possible jurors. 100 and some thousand registered voters. The demographic of Chesapeake is 207,000. About 72 percent of that would be the majority race, and 22 percent African-American. So, certainly, you can get a fair trial here in Chesapeake.

ZAHN: And finally, Mr. Mayor, how closely did you follow the sniper case?

WARD: Very closely like the rest I would think most Americans here particularly on the East Coast. Keep in mind that Ashland is only 80 miles from Chesapeake where one of the incidents took place and the rest up and down Route I-95. So we are very familiar with what was going to.

ZAHN: Well, I'm impress that you've already started to do some of this work today, just as you learned the news.

Mayor Ward, thanks you very much for spending some time with us tonight.

WARD: Thank you, and hope to see you in November. Bye.

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