Sunday, July 27, 2014

Judge denies motion in murder case

By Anthony Varriano

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

Dawson County Seventh Judicial District Court Judge Richard Simonton denied a request for a lesser homicide charge for murder suspect Levi Douglas Stark Friday, just 10 days before Stark’s trial is scheduled to begin.

Stark appeared before Simonton for a hearing on motions regarding the Dec. 21, 2012, homicide of Matthew Wiseman.

Defense attorney Matthew J. Wald argued a motion for equitable relief via televideo.  Wald said because Stark’s co-defendant, Jessica Grossman-Miller, entered a guilty plea in an agreement reached with the state to the amended charge of mitigated deliberate homicide by accountability, the charges against Stark should also be lowered to mitigated deliberate homicide. 

The potential difference in maximum penalties are two to 40 years in prison for mitigated deliberate homicide and 10 to 100 years or life imprisonment for deliberate homicide.

The state’s response was presented by Dawson County Attorney Olivia Rieger. She made it clear the state had never considered altering the original charge of deliberate homicide despite the plea agreement with Grossman-Miller, and that the plea agreement was entered into because Grossman-Miller was less responsible for the homicide of Wiseman and could provide facts of the events occurring Dec. 21, 2012. 

Judge Simonton denied the defense’s motion for equitable relief on the grounds that “sometimes you have to work with others to find out what happened … there were only two or three people available who were at the killing, and one of them can’t speak.”

Simonton added that if there is evidence that Stark’s mental state was affected “it will come out at trial.”

Simonton also said he would allow evidence of Stark’s mixed martial arts training since Wald plans to use a defense justifying Stark’s use of force.

The trial is set to start Monday, May 5.

Anthony Varriano can be contacted at rrwriter@rangerreview.com.

 
Get the full story in the Sunday, April 27 print issue of the Ranger-Review.

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