New judge assigned to nail gun murder trial
Nevada County Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderson will hear the nail gun murder trial of Grass Valley resident Richard Williams, fellow Judge Sean Dowling ruled Tuesday.
Dowling assigned the case after fellow Judge Robert Tamietti was disqualified Monday from hearing it because of personal relationships that link him to the victim, Hendrika “Hetty” Williams.
The California Rules of Court obligate the court to assign another judge to the case after Tamietti’s disqualification, Court Executive Officer Sean Metroka said.
“We’re committed to doing this as quickly as possible. We’re trying to maintain the court date,” Metroka said. “It’s in the interest of all of us to keep the trial moving as scheduled.”
Also Tuesday, Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Kathryn Francis filed a motion for the new judge to reconsider Tamietti’s decision to change the trial venue to Napa County Superior Court.
Tamietti granted defense attorney Stephen Munkelt’s change of venue motion in September.
“It’s the people’s position that a jury can be found in this county,” Francis said. “Truckee has been an appropriate place for a jury from the beginning.”
The jury pool in Truckee, she said, was not exposed to pre-trial media coverage. Local media coverage of the case was Tamietti’s reason for moving the trial.
Anderson will address Francis’ motion at 9 a.m. Friday, while jury selection remains scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Monday in Napa.
In court Tuesday, Anderson approved another of Francis’ pre-trial motions: To compel Munkelt to provide her with information regarding the role of a forensic psychiatrist in the case.
Williams is accused of murdering his estranged wife with a nail gun in October 2005, a few days after she moved out of the house the couple shared on Alta Street.
Tamietti, who had been on the case since it entered the court, was disqualified after Munkelt filed a motion accusing Tamietti of having possibly tainted judgment because his girlfriend and Hetty Williams both worked in the local education field, and because the girlfriend’s son socializes with the victim’s daughter.
Anderson was elected to the bench in November 2006 after six years as the county public defender.
To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@the union.com or call 477-4236.
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