Attorney for Dixon teenager accused of murder seeks trial postponement
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Posted: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 6:44 pm
DIXON, Mo. (May 18, 2010) — A Dixon teenager’s trial tomorrow may be put on hold now that her co-defendant, a former boyfriend, has entered a plea agreement.
Exactly what that plea agreement contains isn’t yet clear, but according to court records, Robert Fortner, 31, and Ashley N. Gilbert, 19, both of Dixon, had been facing charges of second-degree murder, accused of kicking and beating a Dixon man to death last year.
Both had initially pleaded innocent to a Class A felony charge accusing them of acting in concert with another with the purpose of causing serious physical injury to David A. Blankenship on May 10 and causing his death by repeatedly striking him with their hands and feet. The penalty for a Class A felony is either 10 to 30 years or life in prison, depending on circumstances.
Gilbert’s lawyer filed a motion on Tuesday requesting a postponement on multiple grounds.
According to court records, Gilbert’s lawyer needs time to complete a deposition — a legal term meaning a formal interview — with Fortner, who is now a “newly disclosed witness,” as well as to review an audio CD of an interview with Fortner that may be two to five hours long.
Gilbert’s lawyer also said pretrial publicity in both the Waynesville Daily Guide and Pulaski County Daily News justify moving the case to a different county.
“A certain article appeared on the front page of the Waynesville Daily Guide, this date, stating the defendant and prosecutor were engaged in plea negotiations. Further, that starting on or about 5/17/10 an article was posted on the Pulaski County Daily.com discussing that defendant had given a confession,” according to court documents. “As a result thereof, (Gilbert’s) rights under the Missouri and United States Constitutions to a trial before a fair and impartial jury have been prejudiced and denied.”
Those motions are expected to be considered in a 9 a.m. Wednesday court hearing, the time Gilbert’s jury trial was to begin. The trial had earlier been postponed from Monday when it was originally scheduled to begin and run for three days.