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BREAKING: No plea: Eliason will go to trial

Published 4:08pm Friday, July 2, 2010

Niles Daily Star

The case against Dakotah Eliason, 14, charged with the murder of his grandfather, will go before a jury in August.

The news comes after Eliason appeared in court Friday, with his defense attorney Lanny Fisher and Berrien County Prosecutor Art Cotter.

A conference had been scheduled for today with Berrien County Judge Scott Schofield, which gave the prosecution and the defense a chance to explore the opportunity for a plea deal should one be offered.

Fisher said that did not happen.

“There are no plea negotiations,” Fisher said. “The prosecutor did not offer a plea.”
Now Eliason and his family await a trial by jury.

In court, it was introduced that the defense wished to have Eliason examined by an independent medical expert.

The 14-year-old has already been evaluated by a state examiner and according to his father, Steven, who spoke exclusively with the Star, he has also been interviewed by a counselor specializing in children who suffer from sexual abuse.

“They had an expert evaluate Dakotah,” Fisher said, explaining the purpose of getting an independent evaluation. “I don’t think that it’s proven — it’s not safe for Dakotah to proceed to trial without having an independent expert examine him.”

A motion was made “asking the court to fund an independent medical examiner, someone who can examine Dakotah and testify not only to his criminal responsibility that night but to his state of mind in general,” Fisher said.

The trial date was pushed from later this month to Aug. 17-19.

Fisher must now make the case that Eliason’s parents are unable to fund the independent examiner in order for the county to take on the cost. Schofield set another conference for Thursday.

With the case scheduled for trial, more details may surface as to what happened March 7 when Eliason was arrested for shooting his grandfather, Jesse Miles, in the head as he slept on the couch in his home on Niles-Buchanan Road.

“There are still a lot of unanswered questions about that night,” Fisher said.
Once an examiner is chosen, Fisher said a closer look will be taken at his client.

“That expert that we choose that will testify on our behalf will be provided with all of the information,” he said, including police records, medical records, school records and interviews with Eliason.

“Certainly we want the expert to have a full picture on everything — not just that night but everything leading up to that night as well,” he said.

He added that the state examiner, who has already issued a report on Eliason to Cotter, will testify at the trial as well.

Fisher now faces the task of finding his own independent expert to examine his client, one that will hopefully give a glimpse into the mind of the 14-year-old that seems to be leaving so many with questions about his grandfather’s murder.

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  • S.O.L.

    I just have one question how is a 14 year old CHILD ,child being the underlying word going to be tried by a jury of HIS PIERS ,I didn’t realize children were called to jury duty and if they deemed him an adult then why is he not at the Berrien county jail?.

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