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Trial delay rejected in downtown Orlando bouncer stabbing

Trial for Craig Sandhaus is set for Oct. 7

The man accused of fatally stabbing a 25-year-old downtown Orlando bar bouncer in 2011 will face trial next month, after his defense's request for a delay was denied Thursday at the Orange County Courthouse.

Craig Sandhaus' second-degree murder trial in the May 2011 slaying of Milton Torres outside The Lodge bar will begin Oct. 7.

Sandhaus' attorney, Eric Barker of the NeJame Law firm, had asked Circuit Judge Alan Apte for a continuance, explaining the defense has been unable to find a jury consultant who will be available on that date.

"The court is empathetic with your issue of not having the consultant," Apte said in a hearing Thursday. However, he denied the defense motion, ruling the issue "doesn't rise to the grounds for a continuance."

The trial has been delayed several times already for a variety of reasons.

Most recently, Apte halted an already-underway trial for Sandhaus in May, after some jurors admitted they'd discussed the parties involved in the case among themselves, in violation of the court's rules.

Attorneys seemed skeptical Thursday that they'll succeed in trying the high-profile case within the one-week window reserved for it next month.

The case is complicated by Sandhaus' "stand your ground" claim — he says he stabbed Torres to protect his brother — as well as the visibility of one of his attorneys, Mark NeJame, a TV legal commentator.

The case is also unusual because Orlando police initially arrested Sandhaus' brother, Eric, then released him when Craig Sandhaus came forward and claimed responsibility for Torres' fatal knife-wounding.

Sandhaus was denied immunity from prosecution under Florida's "stand your ground" self-defense law after a hearing last year, but still intends to rely on that defense at trial next month, his defense has indicated.

Copyright © 2013, Orlando Sentinel

Source: Orlando Sentinel

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