New trial date set in murder, arson case
Ramona businessman James Kurtenbach will stand trial Sept. 13 for murder and arson involving the death of one of his employees in 2008.
The delay is due to Kurtenbach, 49, getting a new attorney, Bart Sheela III, after another attorney asked to be taken off the case. Sheela was appointed to the case in February and said he needed more time to prepare and read transcripts of the preliminary hearing and other information.
Kurtenbach owns the Stars Gas Station and Joseph Nesheiwat, 24, was a longtime employee before he was found dead of burn injuries on Oct. 31, 2008. Nesheiwat was allegedly involved in setting a fire at Kurtenbach’s vacant home at 16421 N. Woodson Drive in Ramona.
Kurtenbach is alleged to have directed Nesheiwat to set the fire so he could collect insurance. He appeared before El Cajon Superior Court Judge Herbert Exarhos on March 12 and waived his right for a speedy trial. The trial date of May 17 was vacated.
Sheela also told the judge he does have other cases and acts as a supervisor in the office of Alternate Public Defenders.
Deputy District Attorney Fiona Khalil asked on Feb. 8 to drop one of two arson charges that were filed against Kurtenbach because it was duplicative. Anytime there is a change in the charges, a defendant has to be arraigned, and Kurtenbach again pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Kurtenbach is also charged with labor code violations at his service station on issues involving number of employees and what they are paid, as it affects workers’ compensation. He is also charged with tax evasion, filing a false insurance claim and vandalism.
Nesheiwat suffered severe burns over 85 percent of his body and most of his clothing had been burned off following a tremendous explosion inside the house, according to previous testimony. He was found dead about 3 to 4 feet outside the house.
Kurtenbach, who lives in Poway, remains free on $2 million bond.
- Murder suspect gets public defender after lawyer drops case
- Kurtenbach to stand trial for murder, arson
- Judge delays Kurtenbach trial
- Judge sets 2010 trial date for Kurtenbach
- Testimony begins in arson murder case
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