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Crime News The Disappearance of Crystal Rogers

Suspects in Kentucky Mom Crystal Rogers' Murder Will Get Change of Venue

Defense attorneys argued the trial should be moved outside of Nelson County because of “unabated media sensationalism” surrounding the murder case.

By Jill Sederstrom

The suspects in the high-profile murder of Kentucky mother Crystal Rogers will get a change of venue for their upcoming trial after concerns arose about the intense community interest and media coverage surrounding the case. 

Prosecutors agreed Thursday to move the trial of Brooks Houck, Roger’s boyfriend at the time of her disappearance, out of Nelson County to an alternate venue in response to a request from the defense, according to Scripps News Lexington. Houck is facing charges of murder and tampering with evidence after Rogers, a 35-year-old mother of five, disappeared on July 3, 2015. 

Her car was later found abandoned along the freeway with her personal belongings, including her purse, phone and keys, inside the vehicle. Although her body has never been found, authorities believe the Bardstown resident is deceased. The case was the focus of the Oxygen series The Disappearance of Crystal Rogers.

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Houck’s attorneys argued the case has received “unabated media sensationalism” over the years that could prevent him from getting a fair trial in Nelson County.

Joseph Lawson and his father, Steven Lawson, who are both facing charges of criminal conspiracy to commit murder and tampering with physical evidence in the high-profile case, are also requesting an alternate venue. All three men have pleaded not guilty.

Both sides have until May 1 to work together to suggest an alternate location. If they can’t agree, the judge will decide where the trial will be held.

Judge Charles Simms instructed the attorneys that the space must be large enough to accommodate the public and have a separate entrance for jurors, according to the Lexington Courier Journal.

Crystal Rogers Fbi

Will all three defendants in Crystal Rogers case be tried together?

While Prosecutor Shane Young has pushed for all three defendants to be tried together, arguing that the charges rely on many of the same key details, all three defense attorneys have requested separate trials.

Both sides will be given additional time to lay out their arguments in writing before a June 13 hearing scheduled to address the issue, according to the paper. 

Steve Lawson’s attorneys have also filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him, arguing that he was promised “blanket immunity” from investigators in exchange for information he provided about the case. His attorneys requested that his statements to Kentucky State Police and a Nelson County Grand Jury be thrown out if the charges are not dismissed. No decision has been made on the request. 

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A police mugshot of Brooks Houck

Where is Brooks Houck now?

Houck, who is the father of Rogers’ youngest child and was living with her at the time, has long been considered a suspect in the case. He was arrested last year and is currently housed at the Oldham County Detention Center on $10 million bond while he awaits trial, according to WHAS.

"In coordination with the Kentucky State Police, other local and federal law enforcement partners, FBI Louisville has been laser-focused on our commitment to hold accountable those that were responsible for the disappearance of Crystal Rogers. Today, we take the first step in making good on that promise. FBI Louisville and the Kentucky State Police have arrested Brooks Houck without incident on charges stemming from the Crystal Rogers investigation," authorities announced  in a September 2023 statement after making the arrest.

Houck was one of the last people to see her before she disappeared. Investigators have remained tight-lipped about what evidence finally led to an arrest. 

Simms set a trial date last month in the case for Feb. 10, 2025, according to WHAS

Willie Downs, a friend of the victim’s family, told WLKY that Roger’s mother, Sherry Ballard, is just pleased that progress is being made in the case. 

“Right now, they’re happy it’s moving,” he said. “It’s not sitting in a back rooms somewhere.”