The murder trial for the father accused of pumping freon into his son's bath water is on hold while a judge decides if the state should pay for medical experts to testify for the defense.

Friday, 3rd District Judge Timothy Hanson ordered attorneys for Michael Jeffrey Bunting to submit a report indicating the costs for a pathologist and toxicologist to evaluate the evidence that allegedly shows Bunting killed his 4-year-old son, Jeremy Bunting, on Nov. 6, 1999."I'm going to have to conclude that there's some reason to go forward," Hanson said. "Then we'll decide how much further we're going to go. I'm going to monitor this very closely."

During the 30-minute hearing, Hanson also denied defense attorney Edward Montgomery's request that the state pay for the services of a private investigator and psychologist.

"I have heard nothing yet that a private investigator is necessary at the state's expense," Hanson added.

Bunting's father is paying for the private attorneys Bunting has hired to defend him but cannot afford to pay the experts, Montgomery said.

Prosecutor James Cope argued the fact that Bunting hired a private attorney should relieve the state from having to pay for expert witnesses. The Legal Defenders Association should cover the costs, Cope said.

"I know of no case in Utah where a defendant has retained an attorney privately and then persuaded the state to pay for his experts," Cope said.

Montgomery claims the medical experts are crucial to Bunting's defense.

"We believe that the pathologist who examines all of the evidence available will conclude that freon wasn't the cause of death," Montgomery said.

Bunting claims police tricked him into confessing by leading him to believe they had filed homicide charges against him.

According to prosecutors, Bunting, 31, was a licensed air-conditioning installer and admitted to police during a Jan. 21 interview that he knew Freon robbed the lungs of oxygen when he ran a hose from a freon tank into his son's bath water.

Bunting will appear again before Hanson May 5 to further discuss who will pay for his expert witnesses.

You can reach Derek Jensen by e-mail at djensen@desnews.com