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LOGAN, Utah (AP) -- The Utah Supreme Court has decided to review a lower court's decision allowing Cody Lynn Nielsen's statements to investigators to used as evidence at his capital murder trial.
Cache County Attorney George Daines said it could take up to 18 months for the high court to hand down a ruling on the appeal.
Defense attorney Shannon Demler said the court's decision to hear the appeal " shows kind of a strong indication that it's an issue that they may be willing to rule different than the trial court judge did."
Nielsen, 31, who is serving a prison sentence for theft and unlawful sexual activity with a minor, is accused of kidnapping and sexually abusing 15-year-old Trisha Autry of Hyrum, then beating her to death, dismembering her body and burning and burying the pieces. The girl was missing for nearly a year before pieces of her remains were unearthed in May 2001 at the Predator Research Laboratory in Millville, where Nielsen had worked at the time of the slaying.
First District Court Judge Clint S. Judkins ruled in June that videotaped interviews and a phone conversation of Nielsen talking to investigators and his father about the girl's death could be used as evidence during trial.
Judkins ruled that the statements Nielsen made to Chief Deputy Bob DeGasser and Sgt. Chad Jensen were made voluntarily. Judkins also ruled that Nielsen was advised of his right to counsel, but declined to have his attorneys present.
Nielsen pleaded guilty Jan. 16 to capital murder in the death of Autry, but was later allowed to withdraw his plea.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)