Julio Fraire, 30, of Dodge City, was granted a continuance in his murder trial of the alleged shooting death of Ramiro Nicolas Bernal that occurred on the morning of the Dodge City Days Parade in July 2015.
In a hearing on Thursday at Ford County District Court, Fraire was also granted a change of attorney by Judge E. Leigh Hood per Fraire's request.
The continuance moves the scheduled trial from Jan. 22 to possibly mid-May depending on proper scheduling between attorney's and the district court.
Fraire was granted a change of attorney when he motioned for the court to terminate the retention of defense attorney Terry Malone.
"This is a tough decision for this court," Hood said. "I informed Mr. Fraire of the expenses already put together by the state but I also looked at the file of the case and that Mr. Fraire had not requested prior continuances.
"I some research and found very little law where a retained counsel had been terminated by the client.
"All dealt with requests to remove court appointed counsel.
"Most also dealt with lower level cases and this is not a lower level case, this is a murder trial where the defendant is looking at 50 years so there is a lot riding on this for him as well as the victims in this case."
Ford County Attorney Kevin Salzman objected to the continuance based on the trial having been scheduled in advance for quite some time.
"We have 30 witnesses set to testify," Salzman said. "We have them traveling from different locations and with hotel accommodations and flight arraignments made.
"The family of the victim has also been notified of the motion and also object."
Hood added that he did share his frustrations with Fraire regarding the timing of the continuance request especially when nothing was brought up in the pre-trial hearing that was held previously.
Regarding the reasoning for the continuance as well as the termination of counsel, Hood held a private, off the record conversation between Fraire and Malone and that conversation was not open to the public.
"I can say that in that discussion," Hood said. "Reasons led to an irreconcilable breakdown between the two that had been building for several weeks and possibly months.
"I again shared my frustrations regarding the move not coming in a more timely manner."
Hood made his decision to grant the continuance based on not only does the state have rights but also the defendant having the rights to have a fair and just trial.
"I am left with little to no alternative to allow the continuance," Hood said. "However, Mr. Fraire I am going to inform you that I will be considering the cost the state has gone through and will seek to impose those costs against you, if you are found guilty.
"Within the timeframe required, I don't see any other way to get moving forward on this unless counsel is appointed to you."
A hearing was scheduled for Monday at Ford County District Court and it will be determined when the exact date of the new trial will be. At this time, Hood said, the trial is set to begin May 17.
The appointment of the new counsel for Fraire will be determined on Monday.
Fraire had been arrested on Oct. 12, 2016 and was charged with murder in the first degree, facing up to 50 years in prison.
It was previously reported that in the early morning leading up to the Dodge City Days Parade on July 25, 2015, police and EMS were dispatched to the alley behind the Dodge City Daily Globe.
Upon arrival, units found a 32-year-old man with multiple gunshot wounds.
The victim, who was later identified as Bernal, was taken to Western Plains Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 1:18 a.m.
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