A court appearance for Garland Joseph Nelson, the man accused of killing two Wisconsin brothers, was canceled on Monday shortly before it was scheduled to start because of complications surrounding coronavirus restrictions, lawyers involved in the case tell News-Press NOW.
Stephen Sokoloff, one of the prosecutors in the case, said a request was made by one of Nelson’s attorneys to allow the defendant to personally appear in court instead of by video conference.
“Due to pandemic-related jail rules (and temporary local court rules) he would not be able to do so,” Sokoloff said in an email. “Judge (Kevin) Walden advised that with the short time before the hearing was scheduled and court personnel being out Friday afternoon, he was going to remove it and take up the new date this week.”
Patrick Berrigan, one of Nelson’s defense lawyers, confirmed the request to allow Nelson to appear personally.
“Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic makes in-person court appearances difficult, at least for now,” Berrigan said in an email. “Judge Walden decided to postpone the hearing a few weeks (no new date yet) to see if conditions improve to the point where Mr. Nelson can safely come to court.”
A new date has not been set for the hearing, according to online court records. Lawyers for both sides were scheduled to argue a motion brought by Nelson’s defense team that the venue for his trial should be changed.
“Current practice is for the persons confined in the county detention facility to appear by interactive video technology,” Judge Kevin Walden, the assigned judge for the case, said in an online court order. “It has been represented by the defendant’s counsel that attorneys are not allowed contact visits with clients in the detention facility and attorneys are not allowed to bring cell phones into the secure areas of the facility.”
Walden also wrote that the matters scheduled for Monday’s hearing were “procedural in nature” and “should not impact of this case.”
Berrigan told News-Press NOW that Nelson had not accepted a plea deal.
Nelson has been held without bail since last July in the deaths of Nicholas and Justin Diemel. He faces several felony charges, including two murder charges.