The attorney representing a man accused of raping and killing a Fort Dodge woman is asking a judge to move the trial out of Webster County. Public defender James Koll is representing 35-year-old Sessions Harper of Fort Dodge. Harper is accused of sexually assaulting 22-year-old Holly Michael on January 8th and then setting her on fire. Michael died last month at University Hospitals in Iowa City.
Harper is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual abuse and arson. Koll told district judge Alan Goode that pre-trial publicity and Sessions’ race are factors in trying to move the trial out of Webster County. Meanwhile, Scott Brown of the Iowa Attorney General’s Office says the amount of media coverage is not a sufficient reason to move the trial. Judge Goode will make a recommendation on the change of venue next week. The trial is scheduled for September 18th.