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Accused murderer granted accommodations for upcoming trial

Christopher Vick appears for a motion hearing in Morton County on Wednesday morning, Dec. 27, 2017, for special accomodations at his murder trial starting next month in the Burleigh County Courthouse. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune

BISMARCK — Entering the fifth year since his mother's death, accused murderer Christopher Vick is less than a month from trial and has been granted special accommodations.

At a motion hearing Wednesday morning at the Morton County Courthouse, South Central District Judge Thomas Schneider granted the defense's two motions, allowing Vick to appear in plainclothes at trial, free of visible restraints. Prosecutor Julie Lawyer raised no objection.

"Of course, that will change if there are any outbursts during trial," she said.

In an unusual request, the court also will locate a chair wide enough and likely without arms for Vick.

"Mr. Vick is a large man and does not fit into a standard sized chair," defense attorney Daniel Borgen wrote in his motion. "Mr. Vick needs a chair that would be commonly referred to as 'extra large.'"

Borgen also said Vick has lower back problems and will require frequent breaks at trial. Lawyer and Schneider voiced no concerns to recessing every 60 to 90 minutes.

"We'll do the best we can to find a chair," the judge said.

Vick spoke only once in court, responding to a sheriff's deputy who asked if he would like his coat removed. When leaving the courtroom, he held a paper to his face to avoid photography.

He is set for a nine-day felony jury trial to begin Jan. 16 at the Burleigh County Courthouse. He is accused of killing his 62-year-old mother, Alice Vick, in May 2013.

Borgen said Wednesday that Lawyer intends to call 29 witnesses at trial.

Vick is currently serving a 20-year sentence at the North Dakota State Penitentiary after pleading guilty in 2013 to the attempted murder and felonious restraint of his brother's fiancee.

His mother died from blunt force trauma in the same episode. Officers found her dead in her home in Lincoln after Vick's brother called 911 for a disturbance involving a knife.

Vick's felony murder trial has been continued or reset at least six times since he was charged in December 2013, owing to new attorney assignments and other issues.

He also will face a felony terrorizing charge at trial for threatening his brother.