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March trial set for ex-Port Richey mayor accused of shooting at deputies

Dale Massad’s attempted murder trial had been set to begin Monday, but a judge agreed last week to delay it.
Dale Massad appears in court for a motion hearing on his bond status on March 14 the at West Pasco Judicial Center in New Port Richey. Massad is charged with attempted murder after authorities said he shot at a Pasco County Sheriff's Office SWAT team.

NEW PORT RICHEY — The attempted murder trial of former Port Richey Mayor Dale Massad will now begin March 16, a judge said during a pre-trial hearing Monday morning.

Massad, accused of shooting at Pasco County Sheriff’s deputies serving a search warrant at his home last February, had been set to go to trial Monday. The defense asked for a delay after new information — what Massad’s attorney Bjorn Brunvand called “a rather complicated issue” — came up in discovery.

The defense attorneys filed a stand your ground motion earlier this month, based on the claim that Massad thought criminals, not law enforcement officers, were breaking into his home early in the morning of Feb. 21, 2019.

Related: Ex-Port Richey mayor’s attempted murder trial gets last-minute delay
Related: Ex-Port Richey Mayor Dale Massad’s stand your ground case could tread uncharted waters

Stand your ground cases typically involve a separate pre-trial hearing, where attorneys argue stand your ground directly to a judge, in hopes that the judge dismisses the case. In this case, attorneys and the judge agreed to do stand your ground arguments at the end of the trial, during a judgement of acquittal phase, where a judge can dismiss a case after it is presented to a jury but before the jury has a chance to rule.

Because it won’t be long before the new trial date, that procedural quirk will hold true for the re-set trial, Brunvand said in Monday’s hearing.