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The Kristine Fitzhugh Case

Last Updated: Friday, May 11, 2001, 8 a.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 Monday, 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."

The 57-year-old Fitzhugh, who has been in jail for the past 11 months, is charged with brutally murdering his wife, Kristine -- a local music teacher -- last year. Police and prosecutors say he killed his wife 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, reportedly could not be corroborated by the lead investigator, Detective Mike Denson.

Denson stated in court documents that items with Kristine Fitzhugh's blood on them were found in the car of Kenneth Fitzhugh, who could have possibly benefited from insurance money from his wife's death. 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 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 Fitzhugh has a family "he's not going to flee from. He has no money, he's got two kids (adult sons Justin and John Fitzhugh). He's not going to leave his kids."

Their father 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, they 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.




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