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Trial postponed again in manslaughter case

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa -- The trial of Kenneth George Neilson Jr., accused of manslaughter in the shooting death of Marlan Lutterman of Worthington, has been postponed once again because of an expert witness who has not been approved and the unavailability of another potential witness.

In Dickinson County District Court Monday, a motion to consolidate Neilson's city ordinance charges and the state charges into one trial was not acted on, but defense attorney Edward Bjornstad told Judge Patrick Carr he thought the matter could be resolved between counsel in a simple manner.

"I'd like to see the matter continued until we get closer to the trial date," he added.

Dickinson County Attorney Rosalise Olson cited an Iowa case that disallowed consolidating city and state charges but told the judge she did not know if the circumstances of that case applied in the Neilson case.

Bjornstad, who had filed a request of up to $10,000 for an expert witness in the field of ballistics, said the expert he has in mind cost approximately that much the last time Bjornstad used him. Neilson, he said, basically qualifies as indigent.

Olson referred to the $10,000 request as excessive, adding it was unknown whether Bjornstad's expert disagreed with the state expert. Bjornstad said he would like the man to review the reports and opinions made by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

Carr asked for more information on both the request for consolidation and approval of the expert before making a decision.

The new trial date is set for July 22.