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Prosecutor fears for witnesses if ND murder trial delayed

Lamar Putney (Submitted photo)
 
WILLISTON, N.D. -- Prosecutors plan to oppose a request to delay the trial of a man accused of a May double slaying, implying that there could be danger to witnesses.
At a status conference Tuesday afternoon in advance of Lamar Putney’s murder trial, which is currently scheduled for June 19, Jeff Nehring, who is representing Putney, said he planned to file a motion asking for a continuance. He said he’s only recently been hired by Putney and that he plans to hire experts and depose witnesses, and so will need more time. He told Northwest District Judge Kristen Sjue that he planned to ask for the trial to be pushed back to the fall or even December.Nathan Madden, assistant state’s attorney for Williams County, argued that the Nehring knew when the trial was scheduled for when he agreed to take the case and that a delay could put those involved in danger.
“I believe there would be serious threats to those involved if the case was continued,” Madden told Sjue.He told Sjue and Nehring, both of whom said they didn’t know what Madden was referring to, that he wasn’t comfortable discussing the matter in open court. He asked Sjue to allow him to file a motion opposing a continuance under seal, meaning it would not be available to the public.She told him that she would consider that after receiving the motion and seeing why the state was asking for the motion to be sealed.Putney was charged in September with two charges of murder after police say he shot Diandre Lott, 24, and Donzell Washington, 23, during a May altercation in a Williston apartment.
Putney and a woman who was in the apartment with him were both detained immediately after the shooting. Putney told police that Lott and Washington came to see him to buy a car and that while they were in the apartment, he showed them some guns he was selling, according to court records.He said one of the pair loaded one of the guns and threatened him, after which he shot both Lott and Washington multiple times, court records said.In court filings, police say two guns were used in the shooting. One was fired three times before jamming, police said, and then the other was used. A call to police by neighbors reported up to 16 shots being fired.“Autopsy, ballistics and on-scene data indicated that Diandre Lott and Donzell Washington were shot with the Ruger, after which the Ruger malfunctioned,” a Williston detective wrote in an affidavit. “There was no physical evidence of any attacks by Mr. Lott and/or Mr. Washington before, during or after the malfunction of the Ruger and the resulting pause caused by that malfunction.”
The evidence indicated that after the malfunction, Putney picked up the second pistol, fired one round into Lott’s head and then multiple rounds into Washington, the detective wrote.Putney was released shortly after the incident, and then arrested four months later, after police said crime lab results showed that neither Lott nor Washington had fired a shot. He is currently being held on $2 million bond in the Williams County Correctional Center.
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