Schmidt murder trial continued

10/17/2013

By ANGIE HAFLICH

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

The trial for a Garden City man charged in the March 2011 stabbing death of a local man has been continued until the beginning of 2014.

The trial for Fred Schmidt, Jr., 34, originally was scheduled to begin Oct. 21, but Finney County Attorney Susan Richmeier said that Schmidt's defense attorney, Kristi Cott, requested a continuance until the first of the year.

Schmidt is charged with first-degree murder in the March 29, 2011, stabbing death of Jeffrey Nichols, and also faces counts of aggravated robbery, possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and the use of a telecommunication device to facilitate drug crimes.

The night Nichols was killed, Nichols and Schmidt allegedly engaged in a fight at or near Nichols' 1909 Sloan St. residence, about a block from where Garden City police later found Nichols' body.

Forensics reports indicated that Nichols died from 45 stab wounds to the neck, face and back.

In May 2011, Schmidt was bound over for trial on charges of second-degree murder, along with several drug-related charges. He later pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder charge, claiming self-defense.

The Finney County Attorney's Office, upon further investigation, determined there was enough evidence to charge Schmidt with first-degree murder, but in a July 20, 2011, preliminary hearing, Judge Philip Vieux failed to find probable cause to bind Schmidt over for trial on the first-degree murder charge.

The Finney County Attorney's Office appealed Vieux's decision, which required the initial case against Schmidt to be dropped, resulting in his release from the Finney County Jail on Aug. 3, 2011.

In June 2012, the Kansas Court of Appeals overturned Vieux's ruling, and Schmidt was bound over on one count of first-degree murder, one count of aggravated robbery and three felony drug charges.

After that ruling, the Finney County Sheriff's Office, unable to locate Schmidt, listed him as a wanted fugitive for first-degree murder and aggravated robbery on the National Crime Information Center database. In May of this year, Schmidt was located in D'Iberville, Miss., where he was arrested by police. He was transported to the Finney County Jail, where he currently is being lodged as he awaits trial.

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