Murder witness to testify in closed hearing | TheUnion.com
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Murder witness to testify in closed hearing

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A murder-case witness’ testimony will take place behind closed doors and earlier than scheduled, a Nevada County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday.

Martin Daugherty, who allegedly saw Charles “Chuck” James Smith fatally stab Julie Biswell in Daugherty’s Big Oak Valley home last winter, is scheduled to testify in a closed hearing Tuesday.



Smith’s court-appointed lawyer, Monica Lynch, said she sought the closed proceeding to keep out media because she feared tainting the jury pool.




“It’s totally appropriate,” she said.

Deputy District Attorney Kathryn Kull didn’t oppose the motion, and Judge M. Kathleen Butz granted it.

The hearing is called a conditional examination. The District Attorney’s Office requested one because of Daugherty’s many health problems, including congestive heart failure and diabetes.

It’s conditional because, if Daugherty is available for trial, he would testify again. But if unavailable, his testimony would be read at trial.

The testimony was supposed to happen April 30 in open court, but the District Attorney’s Office urged an earlier date because Daugherty, 47, was recently hospitalized. He has since returned home.

“It’s better and more prudent to have it done sooner than later,” Kull said.

Smith, 39, is accused of killing the 41-year-old Biswell, his estranged girlfriend, in a Hutto Road mobile home she shared with Daugherty, the property owner.

Smith lived in a cabin on the property. He remains at Wayne Brown Correctional Facility without bail.


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