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Published on -12/16/2009, 10:19 AM

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Budget cuts could delay porn model slaying trial

Eds: UPDATES thruout with details from hearing; prosecutor suggesting hiring freelance court reporter and bailiff for trial; background. SUBS overlines.

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) -- The capital murder trial of a man accused of killing an Internet pornography model may be delayed because courthouse employees are set to go on state-mandated furloughs the week after the trial's scheduled starting date.

Butler County District Court Judge David Ricke said during a Tuesday hearing that Israel Mireles' trial is scheduled to start Feb. 8, a week before courthouse employees are scheduled to go on state-mandated furloughs.

Mireles is charged with capital murder, rape and aggravated criminal sodomy in the 2007 death of 18-year-old Emily Sander. The college student's death drew national attention after it became known that she was a porn model who went by the name Zoey Zane.

Unless lawmakers restore $3 million cut from the judicial branch's budget last year, nonjudicial employees are scheduled to take furloughs beginning in mid-February. That would mean no bailiffs or court reporter would be available for Mireles' trial.

It has already taken two years to schedule the trial. It took 20 months to extradite Mireles from Mexico, where he was arrested three weeks after Sander was stabbed to death in November 2007.

Kansas Attorney General Steve Six, who is prosecuting the case, told the judge Tuesday that trial preparations with state law enforcement officers as witnesses would have to be repeated if the trial was continued.

And moving the trial could delay it by months because of other trials the attorneys are involved in.

Melanie Freeman-Johnson, Mireles' attorney, has other death penalty cases pending. And Six's office has at least seven other death penalty cases scheduled from January through June.

Six suggested that his office and the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit, which employs Freeman-Johnson, try to find money to pay a freelance court reporter and hire a bailiff for the trial.

The money would come from state funds but Six said it would be cheaper than continuing the trial.

Ron Keefover, spokesman for the Office of Judicial Administration, said it will be the second week of January before the courts will know their budget pictures.


Information from: The Wichita Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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