Criminal Justice

Second trial starts for New Mexico lawyer accused of shooting homeless man who entered his office

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Opening statements began today in the trial of an attorney accused of shooting a man in the leg for entering the attorney’s downtown Albuquerque office, KRQE reported Monday.

David “Chip” Venie is accused of shooting Stephen Biddinger in the leg in August of 2012. Biddinger, who is homeless, stepped into Venie’s law office and refused to leave after Venie warned him not to come in. Venie told investigators that Biddinger threatened him; Biddinger said Venie had egged him on and told him he smelled. Venie’s wife caught the altercation on a cellphone video.

The current trial is Venie’s second. His first, in 2015, ended in a mistrial that the judge blamed on Venie’s bad behavior. Venie, a criminal defense lawyer, represented himself in the case, arguing self-defense. The judge said Venie called Biddinger names, showed a mug shot of Biddinger with “BUSTED” printed across it and repeatedly asked the same questions despite objections.

This time around, KRQE reported, Venie will not be permitted to represent himself; he has a public defender, KOB reported. He is charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. At his prior trial, he was also charged with tampering with evidence.

Because Venie works in criminal defense in Albuquerque, his case was originally moved to Roswell. For the second trial, judges from the Second Judicial District, which includes Albuquerque, were barred from hearing the case.

In 2014, Venie told KRQE he was “completely innocent of these charges.”

“I was walking back from work and was beset upon,” he said at the time.

He also said he would sue the police officers involved. Biddinger has also sued Venie over the gunshot wound to his leg.

Prior coverage: “Lawyer tells jurors the man he shot was a ‘methed-out lunatic’” “Charges are refiled against lawyer in shooting of homeless man”

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