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Trial date set in fatal shooting

November 24, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

The trial of one of the men indicted on a first-degree felony murder charge in connection with the March 14 fatal shooting of Jonathan M. Dennis will begin Dec. 1, officials said.

A hearing was held Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court to consider several motions related to defendant Azaniah Blankumsee's case.

Defense attorneys for Blankumsee said they filed a motion asking the judge to exclude Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Viki Pauler from the case because they might call her as a witness.

Pauler interviewed codefendants in the case and in some instances "injected" herself into the case, Assistant Public Defender Brian Hutchison said in court.

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For example, Pauler accompanied police to New York to pick up codefendant Victor Anderson for extradition to the local area, Hutchison said. Pauler and Anderson talked in the car, he said.

Anderson was charged in an arrest warrant March 26 with one count of accessory after the fact to first-degree murder and one count of transporting a handgun in a vehicle in connection with the shooting, police have said. He was taken into custody April 2.

Circuit Judge Donald Beachley ruled that Pauler could be called to testify as a witness and, therefore, could not sit in the courtroom during the trial.

After the hearing ended, Washington County Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael said he would still be able to consult with Pauler about the case.

The defense also had made a motion to remove the Washington County State's Attorney's office from trying the case because Pauler could be called as a witness, officials said in court.

Beachley denied that motion Tuesday.

Blankumsee was being held without bond Tuesday at the Washington County Detention Center, a jail official said.

Anderson was being held on $600,000 bond Tuesday at the detention center, the jail official said.

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