A request by Nathan Yager's defense attorney to appoint a special prosecutor for his murder trial was denied by Judge Charles Greenacre last week.
Stephan Schweissing filed the motion May 22, requesting that it be sealed to all but the judge.
District attorney Dan Hotsenpiller objected to the "secret submission."
The motion apparently provides some indication about defense strategy which Schweissing does not want the prosecutor to see. Judge Green-acre said it's appropriate for that information to remain confidential, and he denied Hotsenpiller's request the motion be unsealed.
Although he did not have the details, Hotsenpiller apparently understood why Schweissing has requested a special prosecutor — current and former employees of the district attorney's office (including Hotsenpiller) are on the list of potential defense witnesses.
Those witnesses would corroborate Yager's presence in the district attorney's Delta office the day before the death of Melinda Yager, and could specifically testify to Nathan Yager's mental state.
Hotsenpiller said any information those employees would provide has already been stipulated by both sides.
Referring to state statutes, Judge Greenacre said a special prosecutor can be appointed only in "extreme" circumstances which make it unlikely the defendant would receive a fair trial. Because the testimony of the witnesses is not disputed, Judge Greenacre said he could find no basis for granting the defense motion.
Trial dates in September, October and November were the next topic of discussion. The date will be finalized at a status conference on June 28.
Jury selection will have to begin weeks prior to the trial date, Judge Greenacre explained. The jury commissioner plans to mail questionnaires to potential jurors in advance, and time will be needed for response, return and review. A "staggered call" will be used to summon the jurors over a period of two to three days, because the courthouse can not accommodate the number of potential jurors who will need to be called.
"I see no other way we can do it," Judge Green-acre said.
Yager has been held in Delta County Jail without bond since his arrest in January 2011 in connection with the death of his wife, Melinda. He is being tried for second degree murder, and has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.blog comments powered by Disqus