November 7, 1996 in Idaho

Still No Ruling On Relocating Loukaitis Trial

Associated Press
 

A judge on Wednesday wrapped up three days of hearings on pretrial motions in Barry Loukaitis’ triple-murder trial without ruling on a defense motion to move proceedings to King County.

Superior Court Judge Michael Cooper of Ellensburg heard arguments on the motion Monday but did not indicate when he would rule. He asked prosecutors to circulate questionnaires to prospective jurors to see if an impartial jury could be seated in Grant County.

Public defender Guillermo Romero argued Loukaitis cannot get a fair trial in Grant County because of extensive media coverage of the Feb. 2 shooting deaths of a teacher and two of Loukaitis’ classmates at Frontier Junior High School in Moses Lake.

Prosecutor John Knodell said a jury could be empaneled in another county and brought to Grant County.

Cooper could wait until the Nov. 26 trial to rule on the issue.

Loukaitis, 15, is charged with aggravated first-degree murder, attempted murder, assault and kidnapping.

On Tuesday, Cooper denied a defense motion to withhold a taped confession from jurors.

Loukaitis confessed to authorities shortly after the shootings but pleaded innocent by reason of insanity.

Romero has argued that confession was obtained illegally because Loukaitis was not given a chance to confer with his parents or a lawyer before he made the statement.

Conviction on aggravated first-degree murder charges carries a mandatory sentence of death or life in prison without parole. Because of his age, Loukaitis is not eligible for the death penalty.

He was 14 at the time of the shootings.

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© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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