Judge denies Chiesa motion

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By SCOTT PESZNECKER

The state court of appeals has denied a request to move the trial of a Wallace man charged with killing two neighbors out of Calaveras County.

Clyde Blackmon, the Sacramento attorney for 64-year-old Peter Chiesa, had appealed a March decision by Calaveras County Superior Court Judge John Martin that the trial be held in San Andreas.

Chiesa faces two first-degree murder charges for the June 25, 2002, slayings of Annette Truman, 41, and Leslie Hannameyer, 42. His next court appearance is set for Oct. 3.

In March, Blackmon asked Martin to move the trial out of Calaveras County, contending newspaper coverage had already turned too many county residents against Chiesa and that his right to a fair trial was compromised.

But Martin denied the request.

Blackmon said he learned Thursday that his request was also denied on appeal.

His next recourse is to appeal to the California Supreme Court, but he has not decided if he'll do so.

Before making his March change-of-venue request, Blackmon hired an independent firm to survey Calaveras County residents about the Chiesa case.

Of the 400 people interviewed, the firm said half believe Chiesa is "definitely guilty," and 70 people said he is "probably guilty."

Calaveras County Deputy District Attorney Seth Matthews wrote a rebuttal, saying the questions and the order in which they were asked would lead people to conclude that Chiesa was guilty.

Chiesa remains in the Calaveras County Jail without bail.

The murder charges he faces stem from the double shooting last summer. Chiesa and his neighbors, the Trumans and the Hannameyers, had a history of disputes over a shared driveway that ran along the fronts of their three homes on Highway 12 in Wallace. The Hannameyer and Truman families had to drive by Chiesa's property to get to their homes.

Things came to a head when Chiesa had a professional trim eucalyptus trees that shaded the driveway. Limbs fell onto the drive, hindering two-way traffic, sheriff's reports said.

11509854
The Union Democrat
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