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HANFORD — The retrial for Todd Pate, who is accused in the 2013 killing of his wife, Melanie Pate, has been postponed until March 2017, the Kings County District Attorney’s Office said.

Pate is charged with first-degree murder with special allegations of using knives for the Sept. 2, 2013, killing of his wife, Melanie Pate.

A jury trial held in August ended in a hung jury and mistrial after one of the 12 jurors felt the evidence didn’t prove Pate’s actions were premeditated, a distinguishing factor of first-degree murder. Pate’s court-appointed attorney, Melina Benninghoff, had asked the jury to find Pate guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

The retrial was originally scheduled to begin Oct. 24. During a hearing Thursday, Kings County Superior Court Judge Donna Tarter set the new trial date for March 13, 2017.

Kings County Deputy District Attorney Phil Esbenshade said the DA’s office filed a motion Tuesday to postpone the trial due to a key witness being unavailable.

Esbenshade said Pate’s court-appointed attorney, Stephen Girardot, also asked to postpone the trial to allow him more time to prepare. Girardot represented Pate briefly following his 2013 arrest, but was later replaced by Benninghoff. He was reappointed after Pate’s trial after Benninghoff stepped down.

Esbenshade said Pate also expressed his desire Thursday to hire a private attorney. If that happens, the new attorney would have to be present at a pretrial hearing set for Oct. 17.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2458 or meiman@HanfordSentinel.com.

 

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