One of two men accused in the April 19 shooting death of a Garden City man has had his jury trial rescheduled for June.
Michael Eugene George Jr., 32, 2820 Terrace Place, and Jeffrey Ridgon, 33, 302 W. Evans, each are charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Karlton Waechter in the 100 block of Poplar Street at East Garden Village.
George, who has pleaded not guilty to felony first-degree murder and an amended charge of premeditated first-degree murder, appeared in Finney County District Court on Wednesday afternoon.
During the proceedings, District Judge Robert Frederick set the pretrial for George for 1 p.m. May 2, and a jury trial for June 13 through 17. The trial had been scheduled to start Jan. 11. The date was pushed back when Frederick granted George’s attorney, Razmi Tahirkheli, time to find co-counsel.
Also on Wednesday, Frederick approved Linda Lobmeyer as George’s co-counsel.
On Dec. 21, Tahirkheli requested a co-counsel to help with the caseload because George, if convicted, could face a “Hard 50” sentence, meaning 50 years in prison before the possibility of parole. Frederick granted his request.
In addition to the not guilty plea on the first-degree murder charge, George has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to distribute or possession with the attempt to distribute at least 3.5 grams but less than 100 grams of methamphetamine, attempted aggravated robbery for allegedly trying to take money and/or narcotics by force or threat of bodily harm while armed with a semi-automatic handgun, aggravated assault or battery, and criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
During George’s July 23 preliminary hearing, Mariah Duran from Garden City testified she gave George, Ridgon and Waechter a ride on April 19, driving them to a residence on Labrador Boulevard to retrieve an XBox game system.
After not being able to retrieve the XBox at the Labrador Boulevard residence, she testified, she drove them to 4101 E. U.S. Highway 50. George told the other people in the truck he was going to get the XBox, Duran testified.
Duran testified that at that point, George pointed a gun to her head while pushing her head to the side with the firearm and demanded that she give him one-half ounce of “dope,” which she later testified was methamphetamine, “their drug of choice.”
Duran testified she closed her eyes and heard Waechter ask what was going on before she heard three gunshots. She said that after the shooting, “they took off running.”
“I opened my eyes, and it was like the whole world stopped,” Duran said.
Rigdon is scheduled to be back in court at 4:30 p.m. April 4 for a status check.