Prosecutors are expected to call at least 81 witnesses during the murder trials of two Pike County men accused of stabbing a Letcher County man to death and wounding two others on January 1, 2014.
Trial dates for James R. Huffman IV, 33, and Patrick Smith, 28, were set Tuesday for October 5 by Letcher Circuit Judge Sam Wright. Wright also set an alternate trial date for January 4, 2016.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Wright also ordered that the two men charged with murdering 24-year-old Michael Shane Hogg in downtown Whitesburg be tried separately.
As prosecutor, Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney Edison G. Banks III gets to choose which defendant he tries first. Banks has chosen Huff- man as the defendant who will be tried in October.
Authorities believe that Huffman stabbed Hogg to death on Hayes Street, also known as Back Street, while Hogg was being restrained by Smith.
Both trials are expected to last at least two weeks.
The attorney for Smith, Tom Griffiths of Lexington, indicated at Tuesday’s hearing that he will ask for a change of venue in the case, in part because of the large number of witnesses that will be called to testify.
In a related matter, Banks and Griffiths agreed that the military records of Smith, a Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq, can be released to Judge Wright for possible use in the trial if the military agrees to cooperate.
Hogg, an Eastern Kentucky University student who was home for the holidays, was stabbed to death after joining scores of others at a New Year’s Eve celebration in downtown Whitesburg.