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Eric Peterson, Published July 16 2012

Slain Montana teacher case delayed until 2013

BILLINGS, Mont. — A state judge has delayed legal proceedings against two men accused of murdering a Montana teacher after defense attorneys said they need more time to prepare their case.

In a Monday order, Judge Richard Simonton delayed a hearing that had been scheduled for this week to January.

Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty against defendants Michael Keith Spell and Lester Van Waters, Jr.

The Colorado men are accused of killing Sidney teacher Sherry Arnold in January after attempting to kidnap her as she was jogging along the edge of the Bakken oil boomtown. Arnold's body was found more than two months later near Williston, N.D.

Defense attorneys say the potential for a death sentence requires a higher standard of preparation for the case.