Change of venue hearing set for next week for gym owner accused of setting Ingram Square fire

SAN ANTONIO – Attorneys for the gym owner accused of setting the fire at the Ingram Square Shopping Center that killed San Antonio firefighter Scott Deem will have to wait until next week to find out if they will get a change of venue for their client.

No decision was made Wednesday as far as the change of venue for Emond Johnson's trial.

Johnson's attorneys argued that in every stage from their client's arrest to each step of the criminal proceedings, the broadcast media, newspapers and social media have been giving the case such extensive publicity that it would be "impossible" to conduct a fair trial by an "impartial jury" in Bexar County.

Private investigator Mark Smith told the court that based on his research, the amount of material on the internet "is overwhelming" and it would take several people months to review it all. 

"My research showed me that an overwhelming amount of media presence from the time of the fire to the present — in regard to Mr. Johnson, the fire, the Fire Department — it's overwhelming," Smith said. 

Johnson was arrested on suspicion of arson and indicted on a charge of murder.

A decision about the change of venue is expected sometime next week.

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