Comments made by Pennington County State's Attorney Mark Vargo following a January shooting will make it impossible for Charles Birdshead to get a fair trial on a drug charge, his attorney said Thursday.

Birdshead's attorney, Jamy Patterson, was back in front of Circuit Judge Craig Pfeifle lobbying for a hearing on her request to move Birdshead's trial on a drug charge away from Rapid City.

Pfeifle has set aside the afternoon of Dec. 18 to hear from Patterson and Vargo.

"I need evidence that suggests that other remedies cannot cure whatever prejudice is out there," Pfeifle said.

In the days following the fatal shooting of Eustasio Maruffo at the South Dakota Rose Inn, Vargo characterized the shooting as "a botched drug deal," Patterson said. 

Although Birdshead was convicted of manslaughter, a drug distribution charge was dismissed during the trial.

"Those assertions proved false," Patterson said.

The stigma, however, attached to Vargo's implication that Birdshead was dealing drugs that night were well covered by the media before and during the first trial, Patterson said. 

The media coverage given the manslaughter trial will make it impossible for Birdshead to receive a fair trial in Rapid City, the attorney said.

Contact Andrea J. Cook at 394-8423 or andrea.cook@rapidcityjournal.com

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