State responds to motion to close hearing

State prosecutors have filed a response to a motion filed by the defendant in a Christmas Eve murder case seeking to close the preliminary hearing from the public.

Stark County State’s Attorney Amanda Engelstad, assigned as special prosecutor in the case, said in her filing that the state would not be disputing or taking a position on whether Watford City Judge Daniel El-Dweek should rule on the motion from Daniel Breijo, 39, who faces Class AA and Class A felony counts for murder and attempted murder.

Engelstad asked that El-Dweek take into account factors including that the closure not be broader than necessary, alternatives to closure be considered and establish that an overriding interest is likely to be prejudiced should the proceedings be public. Engelstad noted any failure to make these findings could result in a reversal.

Engelstad also asked that the ruling make an exception for the victims in the case in accordance with Marsy’s Law, which requires that victims have a right to be present at any hearing they wish to attend.

North Dakota Newspaper Association attorney Jack McDonald said an objection to the motion is being prepared. A motion hearing has not yet been scheduled based on court records. Breijo’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday, April 25.


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