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Friday, 4 June 2010

Allgier's lawyers want neo-Nazi's tattoos covered during trial (USA)

Attorneys for Curtis Michael Allgier are afraid the murder suspect's head-to-toe tattoos -- which include swastikas, neo-Nazi symbols and the words "Skin Head" written across his forehead -- could negatively influence a jury.

So to ensure he gets a fair trial, they want the tattoos on the white supremacist's face, head, neck and hands covered up, even though that would "substantially change his appearance from what he looked like" on the day three years ago when he allegedly killed a Corrections officer during a visit to a Salt Lake City medical clinic.

Hiding the tattoos would potentially prejudice the state's case, but the defense argues the prejudice to the state is outweighed by prejudice to Allgier.

The defense motion, filed late last month, proposed covering the tattoos during trial but does not specify how they propose to do so.

Allgier, 30, is charged with capital murder for allegedly killing 60-year-old Stephen Anderson with his own gun after Anderson unshackled Allgier for an MRI scan on June 25, 2007.

Attorneys have told 3rd District Judge Paul Maughan they expect to be able to try the case in the spring of 2011.

But the recent loss of one of Allgier's public defenders -- Rudy Bautista, who left the Salt Lake Legal Defender Association to join a law firm -- could delay that trial expectation.

The last time one of the four-member defense team left the office, it delayed a planned preliminary hearing for five months.

Allgier's next court hearing is set for Sept. 1, when the judge hopes to resolve outstanding legal issues. No trial dates have been set.

Meanwhile, the Utah Supreme Court is deciding whether a letter written by a former Utah State Prison inmate that contains information about Allgier can be unsealed and released to the public. The defense has expressed concern that publicity about the letter's contents, penned by Brent Mayon Cobb, would jeopardize Allgier's right to a fair trial.

Following a three-day preliminary hearing in March, Allgier was bound over on one count of capital murder, as well as charges seven other felonies connected to Allgier's short-lived escape, which ended when a citizen disarmed him during a struggle inside an Arby's restaurant.

Allgier's attorneys have said they hope to resolve the case short of a trial. But prosecutors have said that no plea negotiations have been held.