Wigen murder trial rescheduled

Defense hopes to have charges against his client dismissed

Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The attorney representing the man charged with killing Maggie Wigen two years ago in Tenakee Springs will have another month to prepare for trial - and argue to dismiss the charges.

James Harmon, 26, faces first-degree murder and first-degree sexual assault charges in the death of Wigen, 19, whose body was found April 1, 2003, buried near the cabin where she lived. He was arrested in May.

Ketchikan Superior Court Judge Trevor Stephens has rescheduled the trial for April 4. Last summer he scheduled it to begin March 1.

Last week, Assistant Public Defender David Seid argued for a Sept. 1, 2005 trial date, but Stephens wrote in his order that an April trial would give Seid the additional time he needs without hurting the state's case.

Stephens also set a Feb. 22 deadline for Seid to file motions.

In his motion to postpone the trial, he wrote that he plans further to argue to have the indictment against his client dismissed and to have the trial moved from Juneau. He also wrote that he plans to argue to keep statements his client allegedly made to officers from being used against him.

The affidavit showing foundation for Harmon's arrest by state troopers alleges he made incriminating statements to a trooper who was working undercover.

The grand jury indictment charges Harmon with first- and second-degree murder in Wigen's death, as well as first-degree sexual assault, attempted first-degree sexual assault and second-degree theft related to the killing in March 2003.

The indictment also charges Harmon with two counts of attempted first-degree sexual assault of Wigen and a friend after a community New Year's Eve party at the beginning of the year.

Juneau District Attorney Patrick Gullufsen argued at the hearing last week that the trial shouldn't be delayed. He told the court that people of Tenakee Springs, an island village about 45 miles southwest of Juneau, derive a substantial portion of their livelihood from summer work, and it would be difficult to get some witnesses for summer trial.



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