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Judge keeps Zehm trial in Yakima

A federal judge today said the upcoming criminal trial against Karl F. Thompson Jr. will remain in Yakima, but he will make arrangements for a video feed to a courtroom in Spokane so members of Otto Zehm’s family can attend.

In addition, U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle partially granted a request from the defense and agreed to delay the start of the trial from Tuesday to Wednesday.

“I understand the concerns of the family being able to participate,” Van Sickle said via video link. “Due to the abilities we have in technology … we will be able to have a video link between the courtroom in Yakima and Spokane. That will allow the family members to attend and observe the proceedings.”

Thompson faces the felony charges of using unreasonable force and lying to investigators following the March 18, 2006, confrontation from which Zehm later died.

Van Sickle said he expects the trial will take from four to six weeks and he considered moving a jury from the southeast portion of Washington to Spokane.

“Sitting as jurors for four to six weeks is frankly quite a hardship for jurors, a significant hardship,” he said. “These are hard economic times for everybody. To put that hardship on jurors is something I have considered.”


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