- Associated Press - Sunday, May 8, 2016

RUPERT, Idaho (AP) - The second-degree murder trial of a central Idaho man has been moved to south-central Idaho following a mistrial.

The Times-News reports (https://bit.ly/270QWxe) in a story on Friday that the trial for 51-year-old Keith Blankenship of Hailey is scheduled to start Sept. 27 in Minidoka County District Court.

Last month Blaine County Judge Jonathan Brody declared a mistrial after ruling a witness during testimony on the first day of the trial made an accusation against Blankenship that the jury shouldn’t have heard.

Blankenship is charged with second-degree murder in connection to the death of 47-year-old Stephan Michael Romanchuk.

Romanchuk’s widow, Lauraine Phillip, reported her husband missing in January 2014. She said he had lent money to a neighbor and later confronted him over the loan.

Authorities say Blankenship went to the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office in May 2014 and told detectives he hadn’t been truthful when previously questioned about the disappearance of Romanchuk of Hailey.

Police say they found Romanchuk’s decomposing body in Blankenship’s backyard. An autopsy found he died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Authorities say Blankenship told detectives he killed Romanchuk in self-defense, and while still in shock buried him in his backyard.

Blankenship’s first trial ended with a mistrial after Phillips on the witness stand accused Blankenship of breaking into a neighbor’s home after waiting for the neighbor to leave.

Keith Roark, Blankenship’s attorney, called the comment “an egregious violation of his client’s right to due process.”


Information from: The Times-News, https://www.magicvalley.com

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