Shooting suspect makes first court appearance

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The man accused of gunning down a Montgomery police officer told a judge Monday that he wants his capital murder trial moved out of Montgomery County.

34-year-old Mario Woodward, also of Montgomery, is charged in Thursday's shooting death of Officer Keith Houts.

Woodward, who was shackled, told District Judge Lynn Bright that he didn't believe he could get a fair trial, citing extensive news coverage.

Bright appointed two defense attorneys to serve as Woodward's counsel.

Houts died Saturday night, two days after he was critically wounded during a traffic stop on a north Montgomery street.

Montgomery County District Attorney Ellen Brooks declined to predict a trial date for Woodward.

She said it could take up to a year before the case is ready.

Meanwhile, a candle light vigil in memory of Houts will be held Monday night at 7:30 outside the Montgomery Police Department.

Public services for the slain officer are scheduled for 10 AM Wednesday at Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church on the Atlanta Highway.

Family members said they will hold a private funeral in the Birmingham area.

Houts grew up in Pleasant Grove area.

Courtesy: Associated Press