Reno trial postponed in student’s murder, rape
RENO, Nev. (AP) – A judge agreed Friday to postpone the trial of a man charged with kidnapping, raping and killing one woman and assaulting two others on or near the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno.
James Biela had been scheduled to go to trial in February for the murder of 19-year-old Brianna Denison in January 2008.
But Washoe District Judge Robert Perry granted a request Friday from Biela’s public defender to push the trial back to May 10 because she hasn’t had enough time to prepare for the case.
Deputy District Attorney Elliott Sattler said prosecutors did not object to the change because they don’t want to take any chances of making the verdict vulnerable to appeal.
“We do not want to potentially create an issue that would be litigated 15 years from now,” Sattler said. “To avoid problems in the future, a continuance is not unreasonable. If she needs the time, I believe her.”
Denison was visiting friends in January 2008 near the UNR campus when she disappeared. He body was found two weeks later in a south Reno field.
Biela was charged in November in the death of Denison, the sexual assault of a UNR student at gunpoint in a university parking garage on Oct. 22, 2007, and the kidnapping and sexually assault of a third woman on Dec. 17, 2007.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He could face the death penalty if convicted.