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122316-blm-loc-1zimmerman

In this Dec. 22, 2016 file photo, Kirk Zimmerman, right, speaks to his attorney, John Rogers, during a hearing at the McLean County Law and Justice Center in Bloomington. Nearly four years after Zimmerman's ex-wife was shot to death, jury selection in the case begins Monday.

BLOOMINGTON — Nearly four years after the shooting death of his ex-wife, a trial date was set Thursday in the Kirk Zimmerman murder case.

McLean County Judge Scott Drazewski tentatively set the trial date for April 1.

First Assistant State's Attorney Brad Rigdon said the trial could last four to five weeks, with testimony taken four days each week.

Zimmerman's lawyer, John Rogers, concurred.

Zimmerman, 60, was charged in July 2015 with the Nov. 3, 2014, murder of his former wife, Pam Zimmerman. She was found dead in her office on Bloomington’s east side from multiple gunshot wounds.

Part of the delay in bringing the case to trial stemmed from an appeal filed by the state of rulings by Drazewski related to potential evidence. The case was put on hold for most of 2018 while an appellate court decision was pending on whether Drazewski erred when he barred statements from several potential state witnesses and a computerized photo lineup that included Zimmerman.

In June, the appeals court affirmed Drazewski’s rulings.

Also Thursday, Drazewski denied a defense motion to suppress evidence obtained from cellular telephone providers related to Kirk Zimmerman's cell phone and a device within his car.

Rogers was seeking to bar the jury from hearing information about where  Zimmerman may have traveled on the day Pam Zimmerman was killed, and on other dates.

The defense has fought the state's attempt to introduce evidence that Kirk Zimmerman allegedly retraced the route where police found items belonging to Pam Zimmerman after she was found dead in her office.

The Bloomington Police Department initially obtained the cell-site location information through court orders and subpoenas

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Rogers filed a motion in August, asserting the evidence should be barred because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the government generally needs a warrant to track an individual's location through cell phone records over an extended period time.

He argued in court Thursday that the information was illegally obtained because the police did not first obtain a search warrant.

Rigdon contended police acted within the boundaries of the law at that time.

"Not only was there a statute in place that dictated the process, there was also case law supporting the fact that a search warrant was unnecessary," said Rigdon.

In September, the BPD obtained search warrants, signed by Judge Casey Costigan, seeking the records that were the subject of Rogers' motion.

"To allow the state to sanitize — and duplicate — an unlawful search that (the state) has already determined is a productive one by pursuing a warrant after the fact would gut the protections of the United States and Illinois constitutions and is contrary to Illinois law, and the evidence seized should be suppressed," stated Rogers in his motion argued on Thursday.

Drazewski agreed with Rigdon's contention that detectives operated in good faith at the time.

Rogers also has questioned the qualifications of a state witness, FBI Special Agent Greg Catey, to testify about the data from Zimmerman's car. According to Rogers, Catey lacks expertise to offer an opinion on the data.

A hearing on motions related to that issue is expected to be set in December.

Court records show Pam Zimmerman had plans to take her ex-husband to court over expenses for the couple’s three teenage children. Prosecutors contend Kirk Zimmerman killed her to eliminate the threat of more court proceedings.

Pam Zimmerman had announced her engagement days before her death. Kirk Zimmerman also was involved in a relationship at the time of his arrest.

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Edith Brady-Lunny contributed to this story.

Contact Maria Nagle at (309) 820-3244. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Nagle

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Bloomington Reporter

Bloomington reporter for The Pantagraph.

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