Last Updated: Friday, May 4, 2001, 12 p.m.
Fitzhugh lawyer to try other case first
Murder trial may be delayed for at least a month
by Angela Acosta
The murder trial of Southgate resident Kenneth Fitzhugh, which was to
begin May 14, is most likely going to be delayed while Fitzhugh's defense
attorney tries another case first.
"Mr. Fitzhugh wants Mr. Nolan, so as long as Mr. Nolan is unavailable,
we will have to wait," said Deputy District Attorney Michael Fletcher,
who is prosecuting the case.
"We're going as fast as we can, and for such a complex case, this
is still moving along very speedily."
Attorneys were expected to hold a conference call on May 12, to determine
if the trial can go forward May 14 or not.
Fitzhugh, 57,has been in jail for the past 11 months, charged with brutally
murdering his wife, Kristine, a local music teacher, one year ago May
5. Police and prosecutors say he killed her in their kitchen, and dragged
her body down to the basement to stage an accidental fall. His alibi,
that he was in South San Francisco scouting for real estate, could not
be corroborated by the lead investigator, Detective Mike Denson.
Items with Kristine Fitzhugh's blood on them were found in Kenneth Fitzhugh's
car, and Fitzhugh could have possibly benefited from insurance money from
his wife's death, Denson said in court documents. Records and documents
citing the couple's financial problems were seized for the preliminary
hearing last June. At the hearing, Nolan questioned two people involved
with gathering the blood evidence, arguing that neither investigator could
say absolutely whether the blood traces were old or recently cleaned up.
Fitzhugh also made a statement about a cell phone call he received from
the school, when Kristine missed her afternoon class. This call could
have helped to locate him at the time the call was placed. Under Nolan's
questioning, the GTE employee testifying to Fitzhugh's whereabouts at
the time also admitted to not being able to say for sure either way.
Judge Charles Hayden ruled in July that prosecutors presented enough evidence
to try Fitzhugh for the murder of his wife.
Fitzhugh's bail remains at $10 million because the court has deemed him
a flight risk. Nolan had argued in his client's behalf that he has a family
that "he's not going to flee from. He has no money, he's got two
kids. He's not going to leave his kids," referring to his two adult
sons, Justin and John Fitzhugh.
Fitzhugh entered his plea of not guilty on May 22, 2000. While the district
attorney and Nolan have been preparing their cases, Fitzhugh has been
in custody at Santa Clara County Main Jail.
If the trial is not able to begin as scheduled, Fletcher says, it will
begin as soon as the other case, involving corporate information theft,
is over. That trial is expected to last four weeks.
Nolan was unavailable for comment.