Judge: No contact meetings for suspect in Diemel brothers' deaths

Associated Press
Nicholas and Justin Diemel

WARRENSBURG, Mo. (AP) – A Missouri man accused of killing two brothers from Wisconsin will not be allowed to meet in person with his lawyers until health officials testify on the issue, a judge ruled on Tuesday.

Garland Nelson, of Braymer, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and abandoning a corpse in the deaths of 35-year-old Nicholas Diemel and Justin Diemel, 24, of Shawano County, Wisconsin. The brothers disappeared in July 2019 after visiting Nelson's farm to discuss a cattle deal. 

Nelson has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty  in the case. No trial date has been set. 

Garland Joseph Nelson

Nelson has not been able to meet with his attorneys in person in the Caldwell County Jail because of coronavirus-related restrictions. They argued in a motion that they need to have personal meetings because Nelson faces such serious charges.

"I understand why you'd want to meet in person," Johnson County Judge Michael Wagner said during a hearing Tuesday. "(However) I'm not a medical professional... we're missing someone here and I'd like to hear from the Caldwell County health department."

Wagner set a Dec. 22 hearing that will include testimony from public health officials, The St. Joseph News-Press reported.