Fiegehen pleads not guilty; trial to start early next year
MINDEN — Christopher Fiegehen, 23, pleaded not guilty to murder charges Tuesday and a trial date was set for Feb. 10 — exactly one year after an assault on a Johnson Lane couple.
Fiegehen is charged with the early-morning Feb. 10 assault on Alan and Lorelle Chorkey. Mr. Chorkey died from fatal stab wounds to his carotid artery and jugular vein; and Mrs. Chorkey was critically injured with two gunshot wounds, one at the back of her head and one in her chest. Mrs. Chorkey reportedly named Fiegehen as her attacker as she entered surgery. She has since been released from a Reno hospital and was in court Tuesday.
Appearing in court, newly shaven and wearing a loosely-fitting suit, Feieghen entered a plea of not guilty to murder, attempted murder, home invasion and burglary.
Douglas County District Court Judge David R. Gamble was adamant the lawyers agree on a firm trial date, saying he didn’t want to hear continuance requests in the future, further delaying the start of Fiegehen’s trial.
Douglas County Deputy District Attorney Mark Jackson initially said the state is prepared to go to trial within 60 days. He told the judge he wanted Fiegehen’s trial completed this year and estimated it would take less than three weeks to conclude.
Defense attorney Richard Young requested a March 2003 trial date and told the judge he needed time to research the proposed 184 witnesses and prepare DNA studies, in addition to working around holiday schedules.
Although the district attorney disclosed a possible 184 witnesses, Jackson said it would more likely be in the 60 to 70 range.
Fiegehen’s arraignment Tuesday was continued from July 23 to give Young an opportunity to explore the relationship between Fiegehen and Judge Gamble’s daughters. His eldest daughter had reportedly been in a high- school class with Fiegehen and his younger daughter had played soccer with the accused.
Young said those relationships “won’t pose any problems” for the defense.
But Young told Judge Gamble he plans to file a writ of habeas corpus in connection with the rulings by East Fork Justice Court Judge Jim EnEarl, who bound Fiegehen over for trial following a daylong preliminary hearing June 27.
Preliminary hearings are conducted to establish whether there is enough evidence to put a suspect on trial.
A writ of habeas corpus puts the burden of proof on those detaining Fiegehen to justify the detention.
Young previously sought to remove EnEarl from the preliminary hearing because he had signed some of the arrest and search warrants issued against Fiegehen.
In court Tuesday, Gamble said he was called on to sign warrants related to Fiegehen, but that he didn’t recall signing the actual warrant seeking Fiegehen’s arrest.
Young requested pretrial proceedings be heard by another department, but Gamble said he didn’t want the case to become “hodgepodge,” and offered to voluntarily recuse himself from the case.
“There was a flurry of activity” of legal affidavits and warrants being issued following the crime, said Gamble.
Young said he had no objection to Gamble remaining on the case, because he will be responsible for legal rulings whereas EnEarl ruled on factual evidence.
“There is a certain proof level at a lower (court) level and I have no problem with it,” said Gamble.
Mrs. Chorkey, who looked frail July 23, no longer had the cane she had used for stability at the last court date. She was surrounded by friends and her youngest daughter, Amber Dockstader. The Fiegehen family was also in court.
Fiegehen, of Carson City, is the former boyfriend of Mrs. Chorkey’s daughter, Alane Dockstader, 18. Dockstader testified she met with Fiegehen the night before the murder and assault, despite having a restraining order against him, and that he wanted to rekindle their relationship.
Fiegehen was arrested April 9 in Vincennes, Ind., after a two-month search, a national manhunt, and two profiles on Fox television’s “America’s Most Wanted.” Fiegehen was also in Mobile, Ala., in early March, where he was working under an alias in a restaurant.
He is being held at the Douglas County Jail without bail.
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