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Woman charged in Grand Forks porn case seeks change of venue

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region Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Enterprise
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Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

The attorney of a woman accused of showing pornography on a television that could be seen and heard from a Grand Forks elementary school is requesting a change of venue for his client's trial, asserting the allegations are "so sensational that a fair and impartial jury panel is unlikely to be found in Grand Forks County," according to a motion filed in state District Court.

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Nicole Altendorf, 37, was arrested the morning of Oct. 16 at a house near Lake Agassiz Elementary School. A police affidavit says she resisted arrest, bit the arm of the arresting officer, kicked him in the crotch several times and spit in his face.

School employees reported to police that the television playing pornography was in front of a window of Altendorf's home; the windows and a door of the home were open, and the volume was turned up, the affidavit states.

Altendorf's attorney, Ted Sandberg, said Wednesday that he expects his client's case to go to trial and that she will enter not guilty pleas at her arraignment set for Nov. 25.

Arguing that it will probably be difficult to find a fair jury, Sandberg, in his motion dated Nov. 13, writes that many potential jurors in Grand Forks County may ...

- Have close relationships with the police and may have a difficult time handling an allegation of an assault on an officer.

- Live, or know someone who lives, by the school.

- Visit the scene of the alleged crime and reach flawed conclusions based on their observations.

- Be unable to avoid discussing the case because of the news media attention it likely will receive.

- Have already read about or discussed the case.

- Be unfairly scrutinized due to their involvement in the case.

Prosecutor Jason McCarthy said changing the venue to another county would cost the state more and that it makes sense to wait until jury selection to see if fair jurors can be found in Grand Forks County. A hearing to discuss the motion is set for Dec. 3.

Altendorf, who has bailed out of jail, is charged with three felonies: simple assault of an officer, contact by bodily fluids and preventing arrest. She also faces misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and possession of drug paraphernalia. If convicted, she could receive a maximum of 16 years and a month in prison.

At Altendorf's first court appearance, the prosecution asked her to submit to a blood test to see if the arresting officer faced a health risk after allegedly being spit on. She initially resisted that request but has since complied, said Lt. Grant Schiller of the Grand Forks Police Department.

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