Fodness trial begins February 4 in Ladysmith

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE — The trial for former Colfax resident Michael Fodness began February 4 in Ladysmith in Rusk County Circuit Court.

Fodness, 44, is charged in Dunn County with multiple counts that include second-degree sexual assault of a child, child enticement, intimidating a witness and repeated sexual assault of the same child.

Fodness also is charged with several misdemeanor counts of bail jumping.

During a court hearing February 1, Fodness’s attorney, Shirlene Perrin, asked that the judge order witnesses not to have any electronic devices during the trial and to not communicate by electronic device.

Perrin said she was concerned that witnesses would send text messages during the trial.

Judge William Stewart said that Perrin, Dunn County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Maki and Dunn County’s victim witness coordinator, B.J. Lande, should all advise witnesses not to communicate with each other using electronic devices.

Judge Stewart said that he would also tell the witnesses about the prohibition of using electronic devices.

Fodness was previously scheduled to go on trial in February of 2012, but the trial was rescheduled to August.

Jury selection for the Fodness trial was scheduled to begin in Ladysmith on August 24, but on August 23, Judge Stewart postponed the trial again because Fodness had been taken to the hospital the previous evening with appendicitis.

Judge Stewart moved the trial to Rusk County to facilitate selecting a jury because of the number of potential victims and the number of possible friends and family members of the potential victims in Dunn County.

Fodness has remained in custody on a $100,000 cash bond since October of 2010.

Perrin is Fodness’s fourth attorney in the case.