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Judge to rule on defense motion prior to start of Olea trial

Published: Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 11:56 a.m. CST • Updated: Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 11:10 a.m. CST

The trial of a Newton man charged in the death of his 5-month-old son two years ago will commence Tuesday morning with jury selection.

A motion by Joseph Olea's attorney, Steve Addington of the Public Defender's Office, to bar certain elements of testimony in the case was heard in District Court Judge Randy Hefner's chambers Friday morning. During a pretrial conference that followed, Hefner said he would deliberate upon the motion over the weekend.

Jasper County Attorney Michael Jacobsen was asked to provide the state's response to Addington's motion. No side anticipated any other evidentiary objections prior to the start of trial.

Hefner said he would meet with the parties prior to the start of jury selection to make a ruling on Addington's motion. Voir dire questioning of prospective jurors will then follow, around 9 a.m.

From the prospective jury pool, 28 will be pulled for questioning. Some may be excused if conflicts arise during the voir dire process. Then, each side will strike seven potential jurors to reach a 14-member jury.

Two alternates will be selected at random at the end of the trial.

Olea, 25, was charged with first-degree murder, a Class A felony, and child endangerment resulting in death, a Class B felony, in July of 2012 following a six-month investigation into the death of his 5-month-old son, Kaiden Olea. The investigation into the child's injuries determined blunt-force trauma to the head and neck was the cause of death.

According to court documents, the child's mother, Chelsea Jo Miller, 26, who lived with Olea in an apartment in the 200 block of East 28th Street North in Newton, had left the child in Olea's care from 6 a.m. until authorities responded to a 911 call about a possible case of child abuse in the evening hours of Jan. 10, 2012.

Upon arrival, it was determined the child was injured, and he was transported to Skiff Medical Center in Newton. From there, he was airlifted to Black Children's Hospital in Des Moines. The child died as a result of those injuries Jan. 15, 2012.

Miller is charged with child endangerment resulting in death. She is accused of leaving the child in Olea's care despite knowing he had "violent tendancies." She is expected to testify against Olea at trial.

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