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Trial delayed again

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SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa -- The trial for Kenneth Neilson of Sibley, Iowa, has now been continued until early December so the prosecution has a chance to get up to speed on the case.

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Earlier this month, counsel for the prosecution was substituted after the Dickinson County Attorney had to take a medical leave of absence. The case is now under the care of Iowa Assistant Attorney General Virginia Barchman, with assistance from Dickinson County Assistant Attorney Jon Martin.

Neilson, accused of the accidental fatal shooting of Worthington resident Marlan Lutterman, waived his right to a speedy trial, agreeing to the continuance of the trial. The waiver also included a separate trial for the two city ordinance charges Neilson faces, which will go to court after the state charges.

He is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter -- one a felony and one an aggravated misdemeanor. The first states a person commits a class D felony when the person unintentionally causes the death of another by the commission of a public offense. The second states a person commits an aggravated misdemeanor when the person unintentionally causes the death of another by the commission of an act in a manner likely to cause death or serious injury.

According to police reports, Lutterman was standing outside in the City of Spirit Lake on the afternoon of July 29, 2007, and was struck by a bullet. He died later at a medical facility. Neilson claims he had just finished cleaning a .357 Colt Python handgun when he bobbled the gun, almost dropping it. In his attempt to catch the gun before it hit the floor, he accidentally discharged the weapon and the shot went out the window of his apartment, hitting Lutterman.

The court recently approved an order allowing the defendant's forensic ballistic expert to examine the Colt Python, which has been held as evidence since the shooting.

Neilson, who attended Monday's hearing with his attorney Edward Bjornstad, turned down a plea offer from the state, but does have one week to change his mind and accept the offer.

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