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New attorney appointed for Fodness

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE — A new attorney has been appointed by the public defender’s office to represent former Colfax resident Michael Fodness.

On-line court records indicate that a hearing has been set on May 24 for rescheduling the trial that had been set for May 13 through May 21.

 Fodness’s previous attorney, Shirlene Perrin, asked to withdraw from representing Fodness because of her daughter’s health problems.

Fodness, age 45, is charged with multiple counts of sex crimes against young girls, along with intimidating a witness and bail jumping.

Fodness’s new attorney, Thomas A. Starr, is the fifth attorney who has been assigned to the case.

During a court hearing April 25, the Honorable Judge William Stewart said he would grant Perrin’s motion to withdraw if he received correspondence from the public defender’s office indicating that another attorney would be assigned to the case.

A jury trial for Fodness was originally scheduled in February of 2012. The trial was postponed until August of 2012 but was again cancelled when Fodness was stricken with appendicitis. The August trial was re-scheduled to February of this year.

On the second day of the trial in Rusk County in February, Judge Stewart declared a mistrial.

The May trial was set to go forward as planned until Perrin filed a motion to withdraw.

Starr is listed on the Internet as an attorney from Boyd.

According to a news story, Starr was the Chippewa County district attorney in 1990 at the time 10-month-old Nicole Lee Hattamer was found dead in the yard of her home in the Town of Holcombe the night after Christmas in 1989.

The Hattamer case was investigated as a murder, but no one was ever prosecuted, and the case has never been solved.

Judge Stewart granted a change of venue in the Fodness case in August of 2011 because of the number of alleged and potential victims and their family members.

A district court administrator determined that the Fodness trial should be held in Rusk County.

The Fodness case originally was assigned in Dunn County Circuit Court to the Honorable Judge Rod W. Smeltzer. The case was reassigned to Judge Stewart in March of 2011.

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

Dunn County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Maki is prosecuting the Fodness case.