Woodgrains trial postponed

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 8, 2002

Discord over the scope of testimony by key witnesses between the prosecutor and defense delayed the arson case trial for Woodgrains Furniture owner Bryan Purdie Monday.

The 12-day trial was supposed to start Monday with the selection of a jury from 55 potential jurors, who had been waiting for the process to begin since the morning at the courthouse.

However, Assistant County Attorney David Walker contested rulings Judge John Chesterman made in the morning before the trial was able to start.

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Chesterman granted motions entered by defense attorney Stephen Erickson that asked to limit the testimony by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension chemist, exclude another financial expert witness for the prosecutor, and have jurors visit the fire scene.

Walker asked the court to reconsider the rulings, and gave notice that he will appeal. If the contest is thrown to the Court of Appeals, the trial will have to wait for the decision of the upper court, which can take as long as 90 days.

Purdie is accused of setting fire to his business in downtown Albert Lea in December 2000. He was charged with first-degree arson, second-degree arson and insurance fraud.