Funeral Industry News

Funeral director Pyke Wants Case Moved

October 29, 2010

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Funeral director Pyke Wants Case Moved

imageCLARK COUNTY ? Former funeral home director Rick Pyke is asking that his criminal case be moved from Clark County because of the amount of media attention it has received.

Niles Driskell, Pyke?s attorney, said they have not yet decided whether they will file a similar motion in Floyd County.

Pyke, former owner of Pyke-Calloway Funeral Home in New Albany and R.D. Pyke Funeral Home in Henryville, remains in the Clark County Jail without bond. He faces 61 criminal charges in Clark County and six in Floyd County related to his funeral home business.

A motion to change venue filed Sept. 30 lists four reasons Pyke cannot receive a fair trial in Clark County: ?public hostility against the defendant, public outrage over the offense, prejudicial news reporting or editorializing, which castigates the defendant [and] speculative opinions as to the personality or character of the accused.?

Clark County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said he will oppose the motion to change venue. Last week, Clark County Superior Court No. 1 Judge Vicki Carmichael set a hearing on the motion for Nov. 9.

?We want to make sure Mr. Pyke receives a fair trial by jurors who haven?t been exposed to negative publicity about this case,? Driskell said.

He said he would leave it to the judge to determine where the case should move to, if the motion is granted.

The prosecutor?s office last month added 36 new charges against Pyke, including five class D felony counts for allegedly violating the state?s cremation statute after five bodies were found on his property.

He has also been charged with the class A misdemeanors of check deception and conversion, 45 counts of class D felony theft and nine counts of class C felony insurance fraud. In Floyd County, he is charged with six counts of class C felony insurance fraud.

Many of the charges relate to alleged failure to provide grave stones and monuments people had purchased from Pyke, selling preneed funeral services and never putting the money into escrow or trust accounts and cashing in insurance policies for elderly people who are still alive.

Last month, Carmichael denied Pyke?s request to be released to home incarceration. His Clark County trial is scheduled for Feb. 8. He is scheduled for trial in Floyd County on Dec. 13.