Defense Opposes Venue Change For Murder Hearing

September 25, 2018

Defense Opposes Venue Change For Murder Hearing

WILKES-BARRE — The defense for murder suspect Dana Ganjeh filed its opposition Tuesday to a prosecution motion seeking recusal of Magisterial District Judge James J. Haggerty, arguing there is no indication the judge is anything but impartial.

Ganjeh, 39, of 71 Price St., Kingston, is awaiting a preliminary hearing to determine whether he will stand trial on an open count of criminal homicide. Ganjeh is accused of beating his girlfriend, 56-year-old Linda Frick, to death Aug. 4 and leaving her body in a vehicle outside his home.

Last week, prosecutors filed for a change of venue while alleging that Haggerty pre-judged the case or at least created the “appearance of impropriety” when he asked the parties to address bail at Ganjeh’s arraignment. Under state law, first- and second-degree murder are non-bailable offenses, but bail is permitted for other homicide offenses.

In a response filed Tuesday, defense attorneys Michael C. Kostelaba, Mark A. Singer and Matthew Clemente argue that Haggerty followed the rules of law and that he was within his rights to ask prosecutors to present legal arguments for their position.

“The government has failed to make any cognizable showing of a problem of fairness and/or impartiality,” the lawyers wrote, requesting the motion for a change of venue be denied.

The matter is set for a hearing before Luzerne County President Judge Richard M. Hughes III on Monday.

Ganjeh, meanwhile, remains in custody at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility after Haggerty ruled he did not qualify for bail, and that it would have been denied even if he were eligible.

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