Broitzman trial moved to Olmsted Co.

Published 11:05 am Friday, July 9, 2010

Brianna Broitzman’s jury trial has been scheduled to begin Aug. 23 in Olmsted County after the approval of a change of venue request last week.

During a pre-trial hearing in Freeborn County District Court on Friday, Judge Steve Schwab presented the options for trial dates and locations that court administrators received back from Olmsted and Wabasha counties.

Broitzman’s lawyer, Larry Maus, and Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson agreed on the closer location. The trial is anticipated to last two weeks.

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Possible dates in Olmsted County were the weeks of Aug. 23 and 30 or the weeks of Sept. 20 and 27. In Wabasha, there were four options, including the weeks of Aug. 16 and 23, the weeks of Sept. 20 and 27, the weeks of Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, and the weeks of Oct. 18 and 25.

Schwab said the chosen dates will need to be coordinated with witnesses, but unless the court is notified about a conflict with any of the key witnesses the trial will go forward starting Aug. 23.

Broitzman, 21, is one of six young women who faces charges of abuse of residents at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea from January through May 2008. She and co-defendant Ashton Michelle Larson have been charged as adults.

Four others have been charged as juveniles because they were under 18 at the time of the alleged abuse.

Larson’s jury trial was scheduled to begin Aug. 16, but Nelson said there is rumor that her lawyer will request a change of venue as well, possibly delaying that date.

A motion hearing has been scheduled in her file for July 21, but it is unclear what motion will be brought forward at that time.

Both Larson and Broitzman have pleaded not guilty to all charges against them.

During court Friday, the lawyers and Schwab also agreed that a second pre-trial hearing in the Broitzman case would need to be scheduled to discuss additional motions, jury instructions, jury selection and witness lists.

That date has not yet been selected.

Relatives of two of the alleged victims in the case were in attendance during the hearing Friday.

They said they are pleased the judge and lawyers agreed to have the trial in Olmsted County at one of the earlier dates.

“I think it’s good to get it done soon,” said Angie Jackson, whose grandmother was one of the alleged victims. “It’s been long enough.”

Charges were initially filed in January 2009, though the allegations surfaced in August of 2008 with the release of a Minnesota Department of Health report into the case.

The alleged victims’ familes said they hope their experiences will help them get improved laws passed for all vulnerable adults around the state.

“We are not a unique situation,” said Jan Reshetar, another relative of an alleged victim. “That’s the extremely sad part.”

Reshetar said many of the families have become a part of the state’s Vulnerable Adult Justice Project, which is a steering committee that has a goal of increasing awareness and preventing elder abuse, ultimately with the hope of changing laws for vulnerable adults.

She said there needs to be the same kind of laws for vulnerable adults as there are for children.

The local families meet monthly to talk about their experiences and organize efforts at the state level.