Venue change request denied in Fraga retrial
WORTHINGTON -- A change of venue request made by Josue Fraga's defense team was denied during a pretrial hearing Wednesday in Nobles County District Court.
Fraga was convicted in the death of his niece, Samantha, in May 2009, after she was murdered in March 2008. An order for a new trial was granted in June 2012 after new evidence was discovered.
"The defense asked for a change of venue last time and again this time," Nobles County Attorney Kathleen Kusz said Thursday. "There wasn't a reason that was given to move it that justified moving it."
During the first trial, a jury found Fraga guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison. His defense attorneys tried to cast blame on Fraga's then 13-year-old son, who denied during testimony ever touching the child sexually. The teen later admitted he had fondled Samantha several times, but denied penetration.
The prosecuting attorney also stated during an evidentiary hearing that Fraga's daughter was witness to Samantha's assault.
Fraga's daughter said her father, who had been sexually assaulting her since she was 6 years old, had duct taped her to a chair when she refused his advances that night. She said she watched her father start drowning Samantha in the toilet and then the bathtub.
The request for a new trial was granted in June 2012, and jury selection is scheduled to begin in September.
It has been more than five years since 2-year-old Samantha's body was brought to the emergency room by her aunt and uncle, who were caring for her at the time. An autopsy would later show that the toddler had traumatic head injuries, a ruptured stomach, severe contusions all over her body and had been penetrated vaginally and anally.
Fraga's attorney was not available for comment Thursday.