With the majority of motions in the case now addressed, Judge David Hermerding set a date for Joshua Karjala Jan. 8.
The trial, which is for second-degree murder and second-degree murder with intent, is scheduled to start June 14, with a pre-trial hearing scheduled for June 8.
Originally, Hermerding proposed a May court date for the trial – which is expected to last between two and three weeks. However, counsel for the defense as well as the state attorney’s office had a potential conflict with another trial.
There are two motions that may still be in play with the trial – one regarding Spreigl evidence, in which the state could consider evidence from prior crimes and another regarding a change of venue.
The change of venue motion, according to Karjala’s defense, is on reserve for now. The Spriegl motion is expected to be filed in February with responses from defense lawyer Steven Bergeson expected within two weeks.
The major point of discussion – outside of determining a date – at the hearing Jan. 6 was discussion of the jury for the trial. Due to COVID-19, potential jury members would be asked to fill out a questionnairre, which both sides would then examine for potential jury selection.
However, Bergeson raised a point that neither side could be assured that the questionnaire was actually being filled out by the person to whom it had been sent. Assistant District Attorney Daniel Vlieger admitted that could be a possibility, and Bergeson said he’d personally experienced such an issue in the past.
Hermerding asked for some time to think over the matter, and told both parties it would not be decided at the Jan. 6 hearing. Karjala is being accused in the death of Michelle Mae, a 35-year-old from Outing.
The family of Mae reported her missing Oct. 3, 2019. On Oct. 4, after locating her 2004 Jeep Liberty, investigation and searches began for Mae. Over the course of the following 10 days, numerous agencies participated in daily ground searches and K-9 searches in a five mile radius of the location where the vehicle was recovered.
Drone searches and water searches were conducted. Search warrants were issued for cell account data. In addition, search warrants were executed at a rural private property near Swatara. On Oct. 15, while executing a search warrant at the residence of Karjala, the body of Mae was located. Mae’s body was transported to the Ramsey County medical examiner for autopsy, who determined Mae’s manner of death to be homicide.