Duluth murder trial moved to Brainerd
Next month's jury trial for a Duluth murder suspect has been moved to Brainerd. William James Holisky II, 64, brought a motion for a change of venue, arguing that he could not receive a fair trial in St. Louis County due to substantial news cover...
Next month's jury trial for a Duluth murder suspect has been moved to Brainerd.
William James Holisky II, 64, brought a motion for a change of venue, arguing that he could not receive a fair trial in St. Louis County due to substantial news coverage of the alleged killing of 52-year-old Lisa Jean Isham.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Mark Munger, who heard oral arguments last week, granted the motion in an order dated Friday and publicly released Monday.
"Substantial prejudicial publicity has been presented to the Court directly relating to Defendant's presently charged crime as well as Defendant's criminal history," Munger wrote in a six-page order. "Defendant's motion for a change of venue must be granted as the prejudicial material has created a reasonable likelihood that a fair trial cannot be had in St. Louis County."
Munger will preside over the trial, which is slated to begin July 25 at the Crow Wing County Judicial Center and could continue for up to three weeks.
Defense attorneys brought the motion last month, citing two articles published by the News Tribune in the past year that examined Holisky's criminal history, which includes numerous violent incidents involving women.
A story published last summer , when Holisky was first charged, detailed the defendant's history and quoted his sister, who expressed frustration with the handling of his prior cases.
A subsequent article , published in March, detailed the events in felony domestic assault cases just months before Holisky was charged with Isham's killing. The News Tribune investigation found that Holisky had been removed from supervised probation by Munger, even after violating the conditions of his release by failing to attend court-ordered domestic abuse intervention classes.
"While investigative journalism is both a respected and passionate profession, the consequences of such articles are incalculable when attempting to conduct a fair trial in a community," public defender Jeremy Downs wrote in his motion requesting the change of venue.
St. Louis County prosecutor Jessica Fralich opposed the relocation of the trial, telling Munger last week that the defense did not meet the burden for a change of venue because it failed to prove that the news reports were inaccurate.
Munger acknowledged that the case has not attracted as much news coverage as others, but said he had concerns about statements made in the articles.
"The primary vice of the publicity given this case is not in printing or disseminating factual news but in printing and disseminating what purports to be the opinions of people who are supposed to know the facts, those in law enforcement and the legal community," the judge wrote.
"Not only is the quoted material damaging in and of itself, but the overarching theme of the articles has been to imply that Defendant is a criminal deserving of further incarceration."
Holisky faces felony charges of intentional second-degree murder and animal cruelty.
He was charged in July after police said he was identified from DNA evidence recovered from the suspected murder weapon in the victim's Lincoln Park residence.
Isham had been stabbed numerous times with a knife, and was believed to be dead for about two weeks before her body was discovered on May 30, 2015. Her dog also was found dead, authorities said.
Authorities said Holisky gave numerous statements before his arrest, admitting that he had been romantically involved with Isham, but denying that he was responsible for her death.