The preliminary hearing of an accused murderer was trailed to the following day after an attorney called in sick Tuesday and trailed again on Wednesday to the following week.
Attorney James Clark explained to both defendant Andrew Sanford and El Dorado County Superior Court Judge James R. Wagoner that Erik Schlueter was “sicker than a dog,” Clark quoted. He asked the judge for a continuance of a week.
Wagoner, however, had other hearings scheduled, having assumed that the preliminary would end that day. Instead, he told Clark to get in contact with Schlueter, and the hearing would be trailed daily until Schlueter returned.
The following day, Wednesday, Schlueter again failed to appear in court due to still being ill.
Deputy district attorney Trish Kelliher told Wagoner, after he stated again that the hearing would be continued day to day, that she had received a text message from Schlueter that appearing Thursday was “iffy.” She also noted that he had “sounded terrible” when she spoke with him over the phone on Monday, and that he had a fever.
After making sure that Sanford was waiving his right to have an attorney present at the hearing, he changed his mind and decided the hearing would be put off to Tuesday. He said that four trials had been confirmed for the day, and that Schlueter “can explain to everyone else on my calendar why they are being inconvenienced” including Swanson’s family, who lives a few hours away and has attended all but the hearings of Tuesday and Wednesday.
The hearing will continue on Feb. 26 at 8:30 a.m. “sharp,” Wagoner said. Schlueter “must be present or provide medical information as to why he can’t be here” from a medical professional.
Sanford is accused of murdering teenage South Lake Tahoe gas station attendant Richard Swanson in 1980.