Change of venue motion denied in Engel case |

Change of venue motion denied in Engel case

The attempted murder trial of Fred Engel, set to start Tuesday with jury selection, will not be moved outside of Nevada City ” at least, not for now.

But if it looks as though prospective jurors have been so influenced by coverage of the alleged crime in The Union that a fair and impartial jury cannot be seated, Nevada County Superior Court Judge Robert Tamietti said Friday would reconsider a motion for a change of venue.

Defense lawyer Stephen A. Munkelt, of Nevada City, has begun a scientific survey that, he said, shows the jury pool already is tainted.

“About 50 percent of prospective jurors already think he’s probably guilty,” Munkelt said after the hearing.

Assistant District Attorney Ron Wolfson said more than 200 people would be interviewed Tuesday and Wednesday to seat a jury.

“The best way to find out is to start,” Wolfson concluded.

Tamietti said his mind is not made up on the issue, but said the trial will continue as scheduled.

“I don’t have enough information to make me think we can’t panel a jury,” Tamietti said. But he added, “What jurisdiction could I move this case to where meth and crime are not intertwined?”

Engel is accused of attacking Wallace in her home in May 2005, and admitted to using methamphetamine when he turned himself in six hours after she was attacked. He has pleaded innocent by reason of insanity.


To contact staff writer Trina Kleist, e-mail or call 477-4231.

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