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Trial for Iowa man who shot Worthington resident pushed back

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa -- For the third time since the shooting incident that caused the death of Worthington man Marlan Lutterman, the trial of Kenneth George Neilson has been pushed back yet again.

"The delay is extremely frustrating and emotionally draining," Jill Lutterman, the victim's widow, said. "The entire family is suffering from this in so many ways."

Neilson was arrested July 29, 2007, after a bullet from his gun shot and killed the 53-year-old Worthington man as he was standing in front of a pub with some friends. Marlan had just gotten off his motorcycle and was preparing to enter the pub when a shot rang out, and he told his friends he had been hit. Emergency medical personnel were called to the scene, but Marlan died a short time later in a nearby medical facility.

Neilson, who alleges he was cleaning his .357 magnum in his apartment when it went off accidentally, called 911 to report the gun had fired. He was instructed to exit the apartment building and was met by authorities and taken into custody.

Charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of reckless use of a firearm, Neilson bonded out of jail Aug. 1 for $13,000.

A motion to continue the preliminary hearing was filed by Dickinson County Attorney Rosalise Olson the following day. She requested time to await a report from the Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) Criminalistics Laboratory, according to court documents.

In September 2007, a trial date of Dec. 4 was set, but in October, the date was rescheduled to March 27, 2008. Calls from the Daily Globe to Olson's office to determine the cause were not returned. In January, Jack Bjornstad withdrew as Neilson's attorney and was replaced by Edward Bjornstad.

Another order for continuance was filed in early March, rescheduling the trial to May 20. Again, calls to Olson's office to determine the cause of another delay were not returned. The order was filed by Judge Frank Nelson of the Third Judicial District of Iowa. By the end of March, a motion from the defense to request an enlargement of time to complete discovery, file motions and file notices of defense was approved.

Three weeks before the trial was scheduled to start, another continuance was filed by the judge -- this one pushing the trial date back to June 24. This time, Jill Lutterman was not told of the delay by the courts or Olson's office. She was informed by a friend who had checked the Iowa Courts online Web site, then called Olson's office to confirm the news.

Again, a call to Olson's office to determine the reason for the change of dates was not returned.

The repeated delays have been hard on the Lutterman family, who just wants to see justice done.

"I'm looking for (Neilson) to pay, in some way, for what he did. I believe he should go to prison," Jill said. "It is hard to go on with life without some kind of closure."