Local News

Tuesday, Nov 20 2012 10:45 AM

Trial date set for accused killer of 3-year-old boy

BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

A trial date of Feb. 25 has been set for a defendant charged with murder in the death of a 3-year-old Taft boy.

Dustin Wedel's trial was previously set to begin Nov. 26, but defense attorney Fred Gagliardini said Wedel, who has pleaded not guilty, had agreed to the postponement. Both Gagliardini and Supervising Deputy District Attorney Andrea Kohler told Judge Michael G. Bush it wasn't necessary to set another readiness hearing.

Afterward, Kohler said she's looking forward to getting the trial started.

"Some of the witnesses and family are anxious to get the case going, and it's really taken a long time," she said.

Wedel, charged in June of last year, is accused of killing James Lee Fanshier, who was found Jan. 23 not breathing at a residence in the 200 block of Van Buren Street. James was pronounced dead at 7:37 p.m.

The boy died from multiple blunt force injuries, according to the coroner's office. An autopsy revealed he suffered four broken ribs, a broken arm, injuries to his pancreas, bowels and genitals, plus bruising over much of his body, according to Kern County sheriff's reports filed in court.

James was the son of Evan Fanshier and Sommer Ruiz. At the time of his death, James was staying at the residence of Evan Fanshier's ex-girlfriend, who was living with Wedel.

Several relatives and acquaintances of the ex-girlfriend, Stormy Roberts, told detectives they noticed bruises on James after he had been with Wedel, according to the sheriff's reports.

Wedel's previous arrests go back to at least 2004. Court records show he has, in different cases, pleaded no contest to DUI, being under the influence of drugs, and possession of marijuana.

Relatives of Wedel have said he's struggled with drugs and been in trouble in the past, but they believe he's incapable of harming, let alone killing, a child.

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