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Judge: No trial venue change for defendant accused of killing Rusk County deputy

Deputy slaying trial stays in Ladysmith

posted Aug. 11, 2017 11:30 p.m. | updated Aug. 12, 2017 12:09 a.m. (CDT)
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by / Julian Emerson. bio | email

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    Staff file photo by Chris Vetter | Enlarge
    - Doug Nitek appears April 18 in Rusk County Court in Ladysmith. On Friday, a judge denied a request that his first-degree intentional homicide trial be moved from Rusk County. Nitek is accused of fatally shooting Rusk County sheriff’s Deputy Dan Glaze.
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    Nitek

A judge Friday denied a change of venue request for a Conrath man accused of killing a sheriff’s deputy in October, saying the trial can occur safely in Rusk County Court.   

The trial for Doug S. Nitek, 44, who faces charges related to the Oct. 29 shooting death of Rusk County Deputy Dan Glaze, will occur in Ladysmith, Washburn County Judge Eugene Harrington ruled during a court hearing in Shell Lake. Harrington was assigned to the case in April. 

The trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 11 and could last for two weeks. A final pretrial hearing is scheduled for Nov. 13. The trial date is subject to change. 

Nitek is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, two counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and 17 counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety. He is in custody on a $1 million bond.

Lawyers and the judge discussed challenges related to finding an impartial jury. Attorney Richard Jones, who represents Nitek, argued that obtaining such a jury in Rusk County would be extremely difficult, given news coverage of the fatal shooting of Glaze.

Court officials and lawyers representing both sides discussed security risks involved with a trial in Rusk County. Rusk County court officials argued that they can provide a safe environment there, and Harrington ultimately agreed.

To ensure the safety of Nitek and others during the trail, Harrington ordered Nitek to be housed in the Barron County Jail during the trial and to be transported there and back daily. 

Lawyer Charles Glynn, who also represents Nitek, objected to his client being sent to and from Barron during the trial, saying doing so could reduce Nitek’s access to legal advice and services. Moving the trial to a different county would help allow for a fair trial, Glynn said. 

But prosecuting attorney Richard Dufour said an impartial jury can be obtained in Rusk County by using a pretrial questionnaire intended to rule out potential jurors with bias. He also advocated for a larger jury pool and careful questioning of jurors.  

Harrington decided that a jury questionnaire will be sent out. Questions will be reviewed before they are sent to potential jurors by Sept. 15, he said. Responses are due Oct. 6. 

Both sides agreed that a jury would be sequestered during Nitek’s trial, a move to prevent them from viewing media coverage or hearing comments that could affect their decision in the case. 

At a June 25 hearing, it was revealed that a blood test showed Nitek had methamphetamine in his system at the time he killed Glaze. 

The criminal complaint, filed in January, states that Nitek was 168 yards from Glaze when he shot and killed the deputy as Glaze was sitting behind the wheel of his squad car. Up to six shots were fired at Glaze, including the fatal one that struck him in the head.

More law enforcement officers arrived at W7958 Broken Arrow Road, east of Highway 27, south of Ladysmith, with Nitek firing shots at multiple officers before he was arrested.

Nitek was convicted of fifth-offense operating while intoxicated in 2012 and was sentenced to a year in jail. He was released on bond in a recklessly endangering safety charge in Sawyer County. He also was convicted of battery in 2003 and fourth-degree sexual assault in 1992.

Glaze had worked for the Rusk County sheriff’s office for 1½ years and previously was a Hayward police officer. Glaze is survived by his wife, Sarah, and three children. 

Contact: 715-830-5911,julian.emerson@ecpc.com