After several delays in the past few months awaiting mental evaluations on Dennis Poitra, Jr., Dharminder Vir Sen and Wyatt Bear Cloud, the three defendants attended a Status Hearing in Sheridan County District Court Wednesday morning before Judge John Fenn to determine if the three defendants are ready to stand trial for the August 26th, 2009 murder of Sheridan businessman Robert Ernst.
Wyatt Bear Cloud's attorney, Shelley Cundiff, told the judge that she has "exhausted all attempts" to determine Bear Cloud's mental competency, and feels that he is ready to proceed with the trial process.
Judge Fenn informed Vir Sen's attorney, Tim Cotton, and Poitra's attorney, Erin Waddell, that as of yesterday morning, the state hospital did not have Vir Sen's and Poitra's mental evaluations. Cotton told the judge that in fact, the evaluations would be ready to be released later Wednesday, and that as far as he knows, Vir Sen was found to be "competent, but diagnosed with depression."
Judge Fenn spent several minutes discussing possible trial dates for attorneys to pencil in. First, a tentative April 6th Competency Hearing for Vir Sen and Poitra has been scheduled. Pending the outcome of that, Judge Fenn tentatively scheduled the following: For Poitra, a Motion Hearing on June 17th; a Pre-Trial Conference on July 27th; and Trial the week of August 30th through September 3rd. For Bear Cloud, a Motion Hearing on July 13th; a Pre-Trial Conference on August 10th; and Trial the week of September 13th through the 17th. And for Vir Sen, a Motion Hearing August 13th; a Pre-Trial Conference September 21st; and Trial the week of October 25th through 29th.
The remodeling project in the District Courtroom should be finished in time. Prosecutor for the State, Matt Redle, indicated to Judge Fenn that any Motion for Change of Venue most likely cannot be determined until it's time to select a jury, and if it becomes apparent that it will not be possible to find an impartial jury in Sheridan County.
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