Elder abuse trial could be in November

Published 9:39 am Thursday, September 16, 2010

The trial for 20-year-old Ashton Larson, who faces more than a dozen charges tied to alleged abuse of residents at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea, could begin as early as Nov. 1 in Rice County.

Larson’s lawyer, Evan Larson, and Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson on Wednesday agreed that Rice County would be the best option for the trial out of the counties that responded back with available courtroom space.

Freeborn County District Court Judge Steve Schwab approved a change of venue request in the case in July.

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Other counties with available courtrooms included Wabasha County from Oct. 18 through 29 or Nov. 15 through 24 or Houston County sometime after March 2011. Rice County was only available after Nov. 1.

Nelson said having the trial in Rice County would allow greater access to witnesses and interested parties who wished to attend the proceedings.

Freeborn County District Court Judge Steve Schwab said court administrators would confer with administrators in Rice County to find the first available time for the trial after Nov. 1.

Nelson said between jury selection, opening statements and witness testimony, a full five-day work week plus one or two additional days is probably needed.

Nelson said the date could be agreed upon as early as Thursday or Friday.

Larson is one of two young women charged as adults for the alleged abuse from January through May 2008.

She specifically faces 17 counts, including fifth-degree assault by a caregiver to a vulnerable adult, criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult, criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult involving sexual contact, disorderly conduct and failure to report suspected abuse. Her charges represent five alleged victims.

Co-defendant Brianna Broitzman, who faces similar charges, pleaded guilty in August to three counts of disorderly conduct by a caregiver as part of a plea agreement in the case. She is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 22.

There has been no word about a plea agreement thus far in Larson’s case.

Look to future editions of the Tribune for more about the schedule of the trial.