Man accused of poisoning wife with eye drops denied change of venue

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — A judge has denied a change of venue motion from the lawyer for a Gaston County man accused of murdering his wife in 2018.

Joshua Hunsucker’s attorney filed paperwork Nov. 3 asking for a change in venue for the trial, citing the amount of local media and national coverage on the case.

Hunsucker is accused of killing his wife, Stacy Hunsucker, by poisoning her with lethal doses of eye drops in beverages at their Mount Holly home. He had her cremated right after her death in 2018, but family members found out that blood samples taken before her cremation showed high levels of the toxic substance.

He was arrested for her murder in December 2019.

One month prior to his murder arrest, Hunsucker allegedly started a fire onboard a medical helicopter mid-flight.

Hunsucker was working as a paramedic aboard one of Atrium’s helicopters in November 2019. According to police reports, a syringe pump was set on fire, forcing the helicopter to land off of Independence Boulevard.

He was arrested in March 2021 and charged with arson in Mecklenburg County.


In court Nov. 3, Hunsucker’s lawyer argued it would be hard to find a juror who hadn’t already made up their mind about his guilt or innocence. His lawyer said potential jurors have been inundated by media coverage from “internet sources, newspapers, and television” presenting the death of Stacy Hunsucker as a copycat crime after a similar case took place in York County.

Three years ago, a judge approved Defense Attorney Brent Ratchford’s request for a change of venue for the trial of Billy McCullen, the man convicted of killing 3-year-old Jordyn Dumont at their home near Bessemer City.

Joshua Hunsucker’s attorney mentioned Ratchford’s case in his motion to move the trial.

“I don’t envy the judge in this one,” Ratchford said.

He said he has never seen a case in Gaston County get more attention than the case against Joshua Hunsucker, and Hunsucker’s attorney definitely should have asked for the trial to be moved.

“It’s almost legal malpractice to not do it,” Ratchford said. “I have seen the coverage. It’s almost continuous.”

Ratchford said he understood why so many people are plugged into a case of potential betrayal, with a novel weapon and allegations of Hunsucker burning through life insurance money. But he said so much coverage can hurt the defendant.

“You can kind of win or lose your case in jury selection,” he said.

He said even if Hunsucker had won his request for a change of venue, may not have been helpful. Even though he won his request three years ago, Ratchford said the jury was bused in daily from an hour away. He believes that made them fatigued and more eager to end the process than to hear the case.

On Dec. 6, Hunsucker’s attorney tried to convince a judge to move his trial. Within the next week, the judge decided to deny the request.

Court paperwork also revealed a search warrant that investigators were granted over the summer. The warrant allowed investigators to look into who is running an Instagram account that includes personal photos of the Hunsucker family and makes strong, personal allegations.

The posts mention people related to the family while questioning the charges against Joshua Hunsucker.

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