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Trial planned for Dallas man injured in explosion, allegedly threatened VA hospitals

BURKE -- A man charged with making explosives and threatening a Veteran Affairs hospital is set for trial after the court declined his motion to dismiss the case due to an extended period without a hearing.

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Martin Rezac, 61, of Dallas, descends the stairway Monday after a court hearing at the Gregory County Courthouse in Burke. (Jake Shama/Republic)

BURKE - A man charged with making explosives and threatening a Veteran Affairs hospital is set for trial after the court declined his motion to dismiss the case due to an extended period without a hearing.

Martin Rezac, 61, of Dallas, appeared in court Monday at the Gregory County Courthouse in Burke and asked the judge to dismiss his case because a trial was not scheduled within 180 days of his initial appearance, court documents state, but Judge John Brown decided there was good cause for the delay.

According to court documents, Rezac was charged on Dec. 14, 2015, with possession of an explosive device with the intent to injure, intimidate or terrify an person or with intent to injure or destroy; possession of a destructive device; and possession of a substance with intent to make a destructive device.

The charges stem from a Thanksgiving Day explosion on Nov. 26, 2015, in which a device exploded in Rezac’s home at 413 Des Moines Ave. in Dallas, injuring his hands and causing cuts to his face, court documents state.

Rezac was arrested Dec. 22, 2015, in Denver, Colorado, and made his initial appearance on Jan. 6, 2016, and the motion to dismiss was filed 373 days later on Jan. 13, 2017. According to state law, any person charged with a crime has a right to a jury trial within 180 days from the date he or she first appeared in court, with some days excluded from the calculation.

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According to Rezac’s motion, filed by his attorney, Sandy Steffen, four days are excluded so a new judge could be appointed, and 128 days are excluded as the parties tried to schedule motions hearings from Feb. 21 to June 28, 2016.

With the exceptions, 241 days elapsed from Rezac’s initial appearance to the motion filing date.

Gregory County State’s Attorney Amy Bartling contested, saying the period from June 28 to Jan. 13 should be included as well.

Hearings were continued after June 28 so the parties could discuss plea agreements, but an agreement was never settled upon, according to court disposition. Bartling was then involved in two high-profile trials, in which Russell Bertram and Adam Bruns were charged with murder, in October and November, and she then took maternity leave through December. Although her schedule was filled, Bartling said she was willing to appear by telephone for a hearing during that time.

“It’s true I had a very busy fall. That is in no way the fault of the defendant or something he should be punished for, but I think it shows there was an attempt by the state to keep this matter moving forward,” Bartling said.

The delay was caused in part by the parties’ inability to acquire a piece of evidence. Rezac was hospitalized in St. Paul, Minnesota, after the explosion. At that time, federal authorities interviewed Rezac, but Bartling and Steffen have been unable to acquire a transcript.

Rezac is facing federal charges of making a threatening communication by telephone and giving a false statement, in which he allegedly threatened to use a bomb to destroy Veteran Affairs buildings in Hot Springs and Sioux Falls and threatened a registered nurse from December 2014 to November 2015. He also allegedly lied to authorities about explosives in his home.

Rezac is scheduled to appear for a jury trial on March 21 for the federal charges. He has filed a motion to suppress the statements made in the St. Paul interview.

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Unless a transcript of the interview is provided, Judge Brown said the state will be barred from presenting any evidence related to the interview. With the good-cause ruling, Brown calculated the parties have another 43 days before the 180-day rule is violated, so he said a trial will be scheduled within that time.

Related Topics: CRIME
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