Holtz homicide trial moved out of county
The jury trial for the man accused in the negligent homicide of an Absarokee resident in 2013 will be held in Carbon County.
Under a joint stipulation by the Stillwater County Attorney’s Office and defense attorneys, 22nd Judicial District Judge Blair Jones ordered the trial of Michael Thomas Holtz moved from Stillwater County to Carbon County. The order was issued following a hearing last Friday.
No documents have been filed relating to the reasons for the change of venue.
The victim’s parents were present at the hearing, also attended by Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde and defense attorneys Vern and Cammi Woodward. Holtz did not appear.
A current trial date of June 22 has been set, which all parties feel is “optimistic” considering the trial will likely last two to three weeks and the investigation is ongoing.
Holtz is charged with the negligent homicide of 27-year-old Forest Dana in the early morning hours of July 28, 2013.
Dana was found by family members in the alley directly behind their home.
A medical examiner determined that Dana was killed when his spinal cord was severed as the result of being run over by a vehicle, according to court documents.
There was also alleged medical evidence, according to court documents, that someone may have tried to perform CPR on him.
Authorities contend DNA evidence links Holtz to the killing, as well as multiple witness statements who told investigators they saw Holtz, or a vehicle matching the description of the one he drives, speeding down the alley and elsewhere that night, according to court documents.
Holtz is also charged with one count of tampering or fabricating physical evidence by allegedly crashing his car to cause additional damage.
He was arrested and pleaded not guilty to both counts in July 2014. He is free on $250,000 bond.
The case was jointly investigated by the sheriff’s office and the state’s Criminal Investigations Bureau (CIB). The Attorney General’s Office is assisting in the prosecution.