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February 17, 2019

2/4/2019 8:33:00 AM
Final matters handled before reckless homicide trial starts Monday

When people came to the Iowa County courtroom Friday for a final pre-trial motion hearing in the case of the State of Wisconsin vs Austin Valdez they learned the court trial scheduled for next week will be held in front of a new judge.
Judge Craig Day, who presides in Grant County, has taken over and will handle the trial. He replaces Judge William A. Sharp who had a medical emergency and will not be able to preside. Judge Day was recently named Trial Judge of the Year for his work.
Judge Day presided at the final pre-trial conference held with prosecuting Iowa County District Attorney Larry Nelson present representing the State of Wisconsin along with the defendant, Austin Valdez, and his attorney Jeremiah Wolfgang Meyer-O'Day.
Valdez will be on trial next week before Judge Day on a charge of first degree reckless homicide. He is accused of killing Robin Reeson, his step-father, with a high power rifle in what he claims was self defense last March 18. His case will be held in front of a 12 person jury which will be seated Monday.
At Friday's proceedings it was noted that there are 120 people on the jury list. They are expected to be at the courthouse at 8:30 a.m. Monday with jury selection starting at 9 a.m. Judge Day said he hopes to seat the jury and have enough time to hear opening arguments Monday.
Tuesday the 14 person jury (12 and two alternates) will be in court at 9 a.m. and it is planned to have them bussed to Ridgeway to visit the scene of the shooting. Judge Day said jurors will be taken one by one through the house.
Most of Friday's hour and a half session included trial issues. Judge Day said the "view" which will be presented to the jury will not be included as evidence and there will be no court reporting during the presentation. Brief descriptions will be allowed but no other discussion can take place.
Judge Day said the recreation of the scene cannot be "spot on" as the shooting took place at 3 a.m. and investigation started at 9 a.m. He said the scene can be viewed during daylight and the jury can superimpose their own image as they make their decisions. Both attorneys agreed the critical areas to view are where Austin Valdez's bedroom was located on the upper level, the stairs where Austin Valdez stood when he discharged his weapon, and Robin Reeson's position and the couch which was downstairs.
Judge Day also said it is impossible to know how the minds were working during the incident if there was abuse and because it was a traumatic event.
Specifics relating to the jury were discussed and agreed upon. Determination of statutory victims presence will be ruled on prior to the start of the trial. Witnesses have been disclosed and all are agreed upon.
Judge Day discussed preliminary jury instructions and determined jurors will not be allowed to ask questions but can take notes. Jury questions will not be allowed.
The Judge also said all witnesses will not be in court during the trial except when called to testify with the exception of court officer Brian Fitzsimons, who is the detective in the case.
Judge Day also revisited a previous ruling about the victim's family wearing t-shirts and it was agreed they would wear them under their outer garments if at all.

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