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AUGUST PRELIMINARY HEARING SET FOR MAN ACCUSED OF KILLING GIRL

SHARE AUGUST PRELIMINARY HEARING SET FOR MAN ACCUSED OF KILLING GIRL

An Aug. 27 preliminary hearing has been scheduled for James Edward Wood, 45, the Pocatello man accused of abducting and killing 11-year-old Jeralee Underwood.

The newspaper carrier was taken from a Pocatello street June 29 and was found dead eight days later along the Snake River at Idaho Falls.In a court hearing by television Thursday, Bannock County Magistrate Boyd White formally postponed a preliminary hearing originally scheduled for Friday. The court-appointed defense attorney, Monte Whittier, said he needed more time to prepare for the case.

Wood faces first-degree murder and 11 other felony counts. Bannock County Prosecutor Mark Hiede-man said he might seek the death penalty. Some of the charges involve other Pocatello girls who reported rapes.

Court officials said early court appearances by television are common, but Wood must appear in person for his preliminary hearing.

The day after Wood's arrest, angry protesters gathered outside the county jail. One man held a sign that mockingly invited Wood into his car. Another man held a noose.

So far, though, security has not been a problem. Wood has been a model prisoner, jail authorities said. Jail guards check him four times an hour.

"He's treated like any other maximum-security prisoner," said Bannock County sheriff's lieutenant Bret Schei.

Sheriff's deputies will beef up security when Wood goes to court. Officers don't anticipate problems. "We're not worried about it but aware of it," Schei said.

Hiedeman said earlier the girl was killed by a gunshot wound to the head.

Police reports said Wood admitted that he pointed a gun at the head of another Pocatello girl eight months earlier. The teenager survived, thanks to a toddler's cries.

"I'd like to see him get the death penalty," the girl's mother said Wednesday. "I just feel that it's too bad it took this long to catch him."

The mother has not been identified to protect the privacy of her daughter.