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Cassia judge denies requests to change murder trial venue, date
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Cassia judge denies requests to change murder trial venue, date

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Rodriguez in court

Gilberto Rodriguez in Cassia County Magistrate Court in April 2019.

BURLEY — A Cassia County district judge ruled Monday that Gilberto Flores Rodriguez’s trial on murder charges will proceed as scheduled after requests from both the defense and prosecution to make changes.

Rodriguez is charged with first-degree murder in the 1995 death of 14-year-old Regina Krieger.

His attorney requested the trial be moved to Ada County and the prosecutor requested the trial be moved to a later date.

The five-week jury trial is set to begin on Sept. 9 in Cassia County District Court.

“The court does not find a reasonable likelihood that the defendant’s right to an impartial jury will be infringed. The court will not grant a change of venue before an attempt is made through the use of jury questionnaires to find an impartial Cassia County jury,” the order signed by Cassia County District Judge Michael Tribe said.

Tribe also said some publicity in the case consists of “accurate representations of various procedural stages of the case,” and some publicity, “especially the emboldening of semi-anonymous social media has had an inflammatory tone.”

However, the traditional media reports have not been inflammatory, the order says.

The order also addresses a book written by Krieger’s mother, which uses the name Gilbert as her daughter’s murderer.

The book provides insight into the mind and feelings of the mother, but there is no evidence her writings were widely read or distributed in Cassia County or that the “depiction of events are unassailably accurate.”

The order also talks about the Cassia County survey completed by 247 Cassia County residents, which was submitted by Rodriguez’s attorney, Keith Roark, as evidence of widespread bias.

The process of selecting jurors will address the opinions of potential jurors and they can then be examined by the attorneys, Tribe said.

The order said the court inquired whether it would be possible to move the trial due to the COVID-19 pandemic to the Fourth or Fifth district courts and was told it would simply be impossible for them to accommodate a visiting court in the near future.

The order also denied the state’s request to continue the trial to a later date, stating that the defense had not complied with supplemental discovery requests. The defense filed the supplemental discovery response with the court on Monday.

The court is sending the questionnaires to the attorneys and any objections from them will be submitted by July 24.

The 569 potential jurors will be called into the courthouse during four daily sessions on July 29-31 to complete the questionnaires. They will be separated into two courtrooms, which will be cleaned after each session.

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