Chadron’s first murder trial in 13 years is scheduled for next week in Dawes County District Court.

20-year old Ian Little Moon, more commonly known as Sage Little Moon, is charged with 1st-degree murder and felony use of a deadly weapon in the death of 72-year old John Martinez, who was in a relationship with Little Moon’s older sister.

     District Judge Travis O’Gorman has set aside 3-days for the trial, starting with jury selection next Wednesday, Oct 26, at the Assumption Arena, which will be closed to the public.

     Concerns about finding a jury that would remain unbiased despite the amount of local news coverage and community talk about the murder led Judge O’Gorman to call a pool of potential jurors about twice as large as normal.

    Since the Dawes County Courthouse lacks the space for such a proceeding, the Arena was secured for jury selection. The trial is still in the courtroom with opening statements and the first witnesses as early as Wednesday afternoon, depending on how long it takes to pick the jury.

     LIttle Moon is accused of going to the house shared by his sister, her 4 children, and Martinez – whom the children called their father – and shooting him in the head with an assault-style rifle as Martinez lay on a bed. Little Moon fled Chadron, but was arrested a short time later on the Pine Ridge Reservation by Oglala Sioux tribal law enforcement.

    Little Moon is represented by County Public Defender Becca Chasek and the Nebraska Commission of Public Advocacy while Nebraska Assistant Attorney General Doug Warner is the lead prosecutor for County Attorney Vance Haug,

      The arrangement has proved fortuitous for Haug because he’s a candidate for the vacant county judgeship previously held by the now-retired Russ Harford, and the 12th Judicial District Nominating Commission is holding a hearing for those comments next Wednesday at Chadron State College.

     The most recent Dawes County murder trial before this was in 2009 when former Chadron State student Joseph Hotz was convicted of stabbing his roommate, Kenneth Pfeiffer over 50 times in a drug-fuel paranoid rage in Dec 2008.