CANYON CITY – Defense attorneys last week asked for more time to prepare for trial in the manslaughter case stemming from an elderly woman’s death at a local care home.

Defendants Vanessa Alise Holmstrom and Thomas Hamilton Houpt III appeared with their attorneys to enter not guilty pleas at a Feb. 15 hearing before Judge William D. Cramer Jr. in Grant County Circuit Court.

Both were indicted on one count each of first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, first-degree criminal mistreatment and second-degree criminal mistreatment.

The charges stem from the death of Doris Dorsey, 83, in October 2011. She was a resident at Country Spice care home, which was operated by Houpt and Holmstrom.

Calling it a complex case, Holmstrom’s attorney Robert J. Moon Jr. said there is more work to do to prepare. He said Houpt’s attorney, David C. Glenn, is still waiting for a medical report from one of their expert witnesses.

Cramer said he would enter the pleas and set the trial date, while allowing for the possibility of further plea negotiations.

“We’re eight months into this case,” Cramer said. “We need to move this case forward.”

Cramer set the trial to start June 24 and run seven days.

District Attorney Ryan Joslin estimated the trial would take about a week, while the defense attorneys projected two weeks.

Cramer cautioned that he wouldn’t allow the defense to call a long list of outside medical experts, saying a “battle of the experts” would only confuse the jury.

“It’s not going to happen,” Cramer said. He added that if the defense wants to produce a lot of experts who merely offer opinions on the reports filed by the medical professionals who actually treated Dorsey, “pick your best ones first, because I’m going to control that.”

The judge will hear arguments on a defense motion to dismiss and another motion regarding grand jury testimony later this month and in March.

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