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PROVO – A judge has rejected a bid from a man charged with killing a woman more than three decades ago who is seeking to have his case thrown out because of pandemic delays in Utah's court system.
Michael Ignatius Kufrin says he's been denied the right to a speedy trial for more than a year. He has pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder, a first-degree felony, in the death of his former girlfriend, Peggy Sue Case.
Case's 1988 disappearance remained a mystery for nearly 30 years, until a tenant in Kufrin's former Spanish Fork home found remains under a cellar in the backyard in 2017. An autopsy determined the remains belonged to Case and her death was ruled a homicide.
Fourth District Judge Kraig Powell declined to throw out the case on Thursday, clearing the way for Kufrin to stand trial in June. The judge noted Kufrin's defense team agreed to postpone the case at some points and said Kufrin, 64, is responsible for certain delays because he declined to appear for some hearings out of concern that he could contract COVID-19.
Some Utah courthouses, including Provo's, began holding trials in a pilot program earlier this year, but Powell said Kufrin opted not to do so.
He has been held in the Utah County Jail for nearly four years after being arrested in 2017 in Illinois.
In the days before Case vanished, Kufrin was upset as the two left a party and he accused her of flirting with other men that night, her friends told investigators. Police had dug through the soil in the cellar shortly after her disappearance, but didn't come across any evidence.
A trial is set to begin June 1.