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Trial in fatal fire to move out of Guthrie County

December 29, 2017

GUTHRIE CENTER, Iowa (AP) — A judge has ordered a trial moved for a man charged with murder and arson in Guthrie County.

Court records say the judge granted the defense motion filed by the attorneys for 27-year-old Patrick Thompson, who’s pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of arson. His attorneys argued that Thompson wouldn’t be able to receive a fair trial in Guthrie County, given the case’s extensive media coverage and the county’s small size.

The judge didn’t set a new location for the trial, which is still scheduled to begin May 8.

The May 15 fire killed 16-year-old Shakiah Cockerham and 12-year-old Melanie “Paige” Exline and injured their uncle, 54-year-old William Long III, and grandmother, 74-year-old Shirley Exline.

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