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Stephens' trial starts with new lawyer, not-guilty plea

Judge grants continuation in car-murder case

Posted: February 3, 2009 8:54 p.m.
Updated: February 4, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Judge Barbara Scheper continued the Michael Stephens’ murder trial to April 7 to give attorneys for both sides time to prepare.

Stephens entered a not-guilty plea on the murder and attempted-murder charges Tuesday.

The judge ordered him back into court April 7 for a pre-trial conference. His trial is set to begin no less than 45 days after the pre-trial conference, Scheper said.

Stephens switched lawyers Jan. 7, which prompted the first delay.

Scheper granted court-appointed attorney Betsy Mogul a continuance to allow her to get up to speed on the case.

Stephens, 19, allegedly stabbed Joshua Pipho, 20, then ran over him with a car, killing him at a Nov. 24, 2007, house party in Stevenson Ranch.

Pipho’s friend, Chad Weitz, 22, came to Pipho’s aide during the slaying. Stephens then allegedly ran over Weitz with a car and stabbed him 17 times.

Weitz survived after doctors treated him for a punctured lung and major blood loss.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office charged Stephens with murder and attempted premeditated murder because he had time to think about the assault.

If convicted on both counts, he could face two life sentences, a district attorney spokesperson said.

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