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Hearing on Lyon County perjury charges postponed

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ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa - A court hearing about an Inwood, Iowa, man's request to have perjury charges against him dismissed or get his case in connection with a 30-year-old murder moved out of Lyon County has been postponed.

In motions filed earlier this month in Lyon County District Court, defense attorney Edward W. Bjornstad of Spirit Lake says statements made by an FBI agent violated John VanGammeren's constitutional rights, that VanGammeren can't get a fair trial in the local court and that County Attorney Carl Petersen should be removed as prosecutor in the case.

Petersen disputes those allegations, and also asks the court to deny VanGammeren's request to have a search warrant in his case unsealed.

A hearing on the motions was supposed to take place Monday, but court officials said it was rescheduled for Oct. 12.

The 82-year-old was arrested last month by the Lyon County Sheriff's Office and charged with six counts of perjury, a class D felony. He is alleged to have lied to investigators when he was questioned June 19 and Aug. 14 regarding the murder of Wilma June Nissen.

Nissen's badly decomposed body was found Oct. 4, 1978, face down in a ditch near Inwood. A California native, Nissen, 23, went unidentified until 2006, when her fingerprint was matched with records filed with the Los Angeles Police Department.

Investigators have said little about VanGammeren's connection to the murder case, other than that he lives within a five-mile radius of where Nissen's body was found.

Nissen was arrested for prostitution several times in her native California and was last known to be alive in Atlanta. Court documents say VanGammeren lied under oath when questioned about various encounters with prostitutes.


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