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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news August 01, 2014

1/10/2013 9:50:00 PM
Judge hears array of motions ahead of Wiesner murder trial
Robert Wiesner
Robert Wiesner
Scott Orr
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - The judge in the Robert Wiesner murder trial on Thursday held the first of two full days of proceedings to hear oral arguments on a raft of motions filed in the death penalty case.

Wiesner, of Scottsdale, is accused of shooting to death Lorraine Long in a Seligman house she owned on Aug. 6, 2010. A Sheriff's Office spokesman said Wiesner called 911 at 4:30 a.m. to report a shooting. When deputies arrived, they found Long dead and Wiesner with a minor gunshot wound.

Detectives said they believe an argument started between Wiesner and Long as they drove from Phoenix to Seligman. They haven't divulged many details, but did say that Long had an order of protection that would have restricted Wiesner from contacting her.

The indictment suggests that Wiesner kidnapped Long from her Scottsdale home and drove her to Seligman before killing her.

His trial is slated to begin March 5 and could run 45 days.

Before the trial, however, the defense had filed numerous motions relating to trial procedures, and Superior Court Presiding Judge David Mackey is hearing arguments on them.

Among the motions:

• A concern that allowing Wiesner to appear before the jury with "control devices" strapped to his body would prejudice the jurors. Defendants are typically not handcuffed or shackled in the presence of jurors, but may wear remotely-activated "stun" devices which are not obvious while the defendant is seated.

Mackey said he would have to see how Wiesner looks with the devices, particularly a leg-mounted device, before making a final decision.

• A question as to whether a questionnaire could be mailed to potential jurors to help weed out, in advance, those who one side or the other might want to strike.

Defense attorney William Feldhacker called the surveys "One of the greatest things I have discovered" to pare down the jury pool in a death penalty case.

Mackey discussed several ways they could be used, including when potential jurors arrive at the courthouse, but Feldhacker said he would prefer to see them sent in advance "so they can be filled out in the comfort of their homes."

• A request that jurors be allowed to travel to the crime scene in person.

"Over the years, I have found that when you're actually at a crime scene in three dimensions, as opposed to one-dimensional photographs" the view is different, Feldhacker said. "This is a very small modular home if you are there, but if you aren't, you don't get a feel for how small."

Chief Deputy County Attorney Dennis McGrane referred to his written response, which argued that precedent was set for denial of the trip, and that "viewing a crime scene over two years after the crimes occurred could mislead and confuse he jury."

He also asserted that such a visit would violate the rights of Long's son and daughter, who do not want a jury "to intrude into their private residence and the place where their mother was killed."

• Two vocabulary-related motions: One, that it would be prejudicial to refer to Wiesner during trial as "the defendant," because, as attorney Robert Gundacker said, "It dehumanizes him. He has a name." McGrane again referred to his written response, which argues that neither the U.S. nor Arizona constitutions allow "the propositions that the defendant gets to select the vocabulary the judge and prosecutor are to use."

The second was a request to refrain from using the phrase "guilt phase" of the trial. Feldhacker suggested they "refer to it as the 'guilt/innocence phase,'" because "that's not prejudicial."

McGrane referred to his written response on this motion, too. He said there was no precedent for using a different phrase, nor any authority to preclude the traditional use of "guilt phase."

Mackey took all of these motions under advisement.

He will hear more argument on motions today.

Related Stories:
• Kidnapping, murder trial likely delayed until 2014
• Wiesner rejects plea in murder case, will go to trial
• Judge sets trial date in Seligman murder case
• Murder suspect faking mental disability, doctor says
• Seligman shooting victim had order of protection

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: I > U

I'd say murdering a person "dehumanizes" them...

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: Van Krunk

Wait,,,,,,Idea,Ban Lawyers!!!

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: Long's adult son and daughter

live together in Seligman?

Why would a kidnapper take his victim to the relatives'-of-the-victim's home?

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: W JW

So, wording for this murder case might be different than it has been for thousands preceding it? Will it be OK to call to call woman who was murdered (and probably kidnapped) the victim, or will that a problem, given that she has a name and was a human being too? So tired of reading garbage defense lawyers think up.

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