A Rockingham County judge denied a request by a man accused of murder to postpone his upcoming jury trial.
John Doljac, 43, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in connection with the shooting that killed Kirkman “Kirk” Rountree, 26, of Harrisonburg, in June 2018.
The case is scheduled to go to trial Jan. 13.
Doljac’s girlfriend, Kara Blankenbaker, 25, is also charged in the case. She is accused of accessory after the fact to first-degree murder. Her case remains in Rockingham County General District Court. A preliminary hearing in her case is set for Dec. 18.
During a hearing Thursday in Rockingham County Circuit Court, Doljac’s attorney, Robert Hahn, asked Judge T.J. Wilson to postpone the trial.
Hahn cited a large amount of evidence and witnesses in the case. He said the commonwealth has 73 possible witnesses.
He also said numerous recorded jailhouse phone calls made from Doljac and Blankenbaker need to be listened to before the trial starts.
Hahn said Doljac has made roughly 20 hours of phone calls. He said it’s unclear how many phone calls Blankenbaker has made, but they will also need to be listened to before he’s ready for trial.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Marsha Garst opposed the postponement, saying Doljac can control the amount of phone calls he makes.
Wilson agreed and denied Doljac’s request.
The investigation into Doljac and Blankenbaker began on June 29, 2018, when Harrisonburg police responded to the downtown area at 2:20 a.m. for a reported shooting. Once on the scene, police found Rountree at the corner of West Market Street and Court Square suffering from a gunshot wound.
Christopher Jones, then 47, a friend of Rountree, also was injured in the shooting.
An altercation near the Water Street parking deck a block away preceded the shooting, according to police, but investigators have not released a possible motive for the shooting or information about what led to the fight.
Rountree and Jones were taken to Sentara RMH Medical Center by the Harrisonburg Rescue Squad. Rountree was flown to the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, where he died. Jones was treated and released from Sentara RMH.
Police believe Blankenbaker drove Doljac away from the crime scene in a white Nissan Xterra. Both were arrested later that night at their home in the Legion Hills subdivision, near the Timberville town limits.
Police identified the vehicle and its occupants through surveillance footage taken at the scene.
There was no apparent relationship between the suspects and victims prior to the altercation, according to police.
Doljac is being held at the Rockingham County Jail, while Blankenbaker is being held at the Middle River Regional Jail in Verona. Both are being held without bond.