|1/28/2019 10:49:00 AM|
Charge upgraded, Valdez pleads not guilty with trial scheduled for February 4-8
The case against Austin Valdez took a turn Friday as the former Ridgeway resident prepares to go to trial early next month.
Valdez, 20, appeared in Iowa County Court Friday where his charge of second degree reckless homicide was upgraded to first degree reckless homicide. If convicted Valdez faces up to 60 years in prison.
Valdez is accused of shooting his stepfather, Robin Reeson, during what he claims was a domestic incident on March 24 at the Reeson home in Ridgeway. He said he feared for his life when Reeson started to come upstairs as Valdez stood in the steps. He then shot him twice with a high powered rifle and called 911. Reeson was declared deceased by the Iowa County Coroner who was called to the scene along with law enforcement officers.
Valdez appeared before Circuit Judge William A. Sharp with his attorney, Jerimiah Wolfgang Meyer-O'Day, to answer the charge Friday and stood mute. The court entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Valdez's mother, Melanie Reeson attended the proceedings by phone.
A final pre-trial hearing will be held February 1 with a trial to follow. The trial is scheduled from February 4-8 with each session starting at 9 a.m.
Judge Sharp will also rule on a request by the prosecution for a supplemental witness prior to the start of the trial. O'Day registered his objection telling the court the witness does not have a direct affect on the charge but is being called to testify about Melanie Reeson's mental health.
Iowa County District Attorney Larry Nelson asked for a ruling on t-shirts the Reeson family wants to wear to the trial. He showed the Judge a sample which is white with a colored picture of Robin Reeson on it with the phrase "Good-byes are the hardest when the story is not finished." The Judge granted the request citing free speech but cautioned the Reeson family that it might be seen as pressuring the jury.
"If it was me I wouldn't do it, but I will permit it," the Judge said.
He added that no demonstrations will be permitted.
Nelson also asked about redactions on the audio/visual which will be presented at trial. O'Day agreed with the stipulations as requested by the state.
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