JUNEAU — A jury from another county will be taken by bus to the Dodge County Courthouse during the two-week jury trial for Laverne Ware Jr., who is accused in the 2016 shooting death of his girlfriend.
Ware appeared with his attorneys, Anthony Cotton and Donna Kuchler, for a day-long motion hearing Wednesday to answer a dozen defense motions before his trial, which has been rescheduled for September.
Ware is accused of fatally shooting Sesalie Dixon, who was also his first cousin. Her body was found Dec. 4, 2016, in the passenger seat of a truck owned by Ware that was parked in a garage at his mother’s Fox Lake residence, which he owned. An autopsy revealed that Dixon died of three gunshots to the head.
Ware, 37, is charged with first-degree homicide, hiding a corpse, incest and two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He could face life in prison on the homicide charge. Ware has been in custody in the Dodge County Jail since January 2017 on a $2.5 million cash bond.
Among the motions filed by the defense was to have District Attorney Kurt Klomberg take the stand as a witness for the defense and to be dismissed from prosecuting the case.
“Are you telling me that Attorney Klomberg is the only person in Ware’s life who can be a character witness?” Dodge County Circuit Judge Brian Pfitzinger said.
Cotton said he did not feel Klomberg had positive feelings about Ware, but he could testify about a statement he made during another case when Ware was the victim and Klomberg spoke of him during the closing statements.
Pfitzinger denied both requests.
“Many a prosecutor doesn’t like a defendant,” Pfitzinger said. “Many a defendant doesn’t like a prosecutor.”
Kuchler said they were not asking to move the trial itself, but to bring a jury from another county. While there has been publicity concerning the case in Dodge County for the last 16 months, the case hasn’t gotten that much attention outside of Dodge County.
Klomberg said that the publicity was a concern he had when the trial was originally supposed to be held in April soon after the sentencing hearing for Ware’s mother, Marjorie Jones, who was found guilty in January of harboring or aiding a felon and possession of a firearm as a felon party to a crime. Jones is in Dodge County Jail awaiting her sentencing on March 29.
However, after the two-week trial was rescheduled to begin on Sept. 17, Klomberg said he felt there would not be excess reporting about the case leading up to the trial.
“A case of this nature in a small community does generate a lot of publicity,” Pfitzinger said.
Also, Jones’ trial being held before Ware’s brought out more information that may be viewed as inflammatory to a jury, Pfitzinger said.
“It’s not the fault of anyone,” Pfitzinger said. “The reporting appears to be accurate.”
While the court would not grant a change of venue, Pfitzinger said the jury would be selected from another county.
Other motions that were denied included having a second preliminary hearing since Ware was not charged with homicide at the time of his first hearing.
Several law enforcement officers as well as Ware took the stand while the court gathered information about the search of the house. Ware, who said he alone owned the house, was not asked if the house could be searched.
The motion hearing was scheduled to continue April 12.