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June 12 jury trial date appears to be a go in Columbia’s Keith Comfort case

June 12 jury trial date appears to be a go in Columbia’s Keith Comfort case

41-year-old Keith Comfort is charged with second degree murder (undated file photo courtesy of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department website)

A Boone County judge has scheduled a June 12 jury trial for a Columbia man charged with strangling his wife to death in 2006 and placing her body in a garbage bag.

939 the Eagle News was in the courtroom on Tuesday, when Judge Jeff Harris scheduled the five-day trial. Judge Harris will be calling 85 prospective jurors to the courthouse on June 12.

41-year-old Keith Comfort’s trial was delayed in February, after both sides learned that murder victim Megan Shultz was arrested in June 2006, about two months before she was killed. Judge Harris said the arrest report “contains information that may be relevant,” according to online court records.

Defense attorney Kevin O’Brien is expected to argue self-defense at trial.

The Columbia Police Department’s probable cause statement quotes Comfort as telling police that his wife was frantic and swinging her arms at him, after she allegedly “ripped someone off” during a drug transaction. Comfort is quoted as telling CPD detectives that he strangled his wife before placing her body in a black garbage bag, then throwing the bag into his Amelia street apartment dumpster near Old Highway 63.

939 the Eagle News was also in the courtroom in February, when defense attorney O’Brien told the court that the last person to see Megan before she died saw her strike her husband. Boone County assistant prosecutor Susan Boresi told Judge Harris in February that a slap across the face is no excuse for murder.

Judge Harris is aware of the extensive news media coverage that the Comfort case has received in mid-Missouri. The judge says if a prospective juror has heard something about the case, he will speak to them in private in chambers. He notes that hearing something about the case doesn’t exclude a potential juror.

The judge also plans to have three alternates for the five-day trial. He’s scheduled one more pre-trial hearing in the case, which will be held on June 9. Comfort will be in the courtroom that day. He remains in the Boone County jail.