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Decision on trial location for Onalaska woman accused of murdering a 6-year-old may still be months away



Josie Dikeman arrives in La Crosse County court on June 18, 2024 (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

The homicide trial of an Onalaska woman charged in a 6-year-old boy’s death is probably still more than a year away.

Josie Dikeman’s attorney claimed in La Crosse court Tuesday that publicity about the murder case has been widespread, so they are asking for a change of venue.

FILE – Spectators stood near the La Crosse courthouse in May of 2023 after Dikeman was arrested (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

The 32-year-old Dikeman is accused of physical abuse, which reportedly led to the death Alexavier Pedrin in February of 2023. She was arrested in May of last year.

At this time, the trial is scheduled to begin August 11, 2025, in La Crosse County court before Judge Elliott Levine. Three weeks have been set aside for the case.

Dikeman’s defense attorney Christopher Zachar argued Tuesday for a change of venue, because of extensive publicity about the case.

Zachar said publicity has included social media, signs posted in public places and even parade floats at area festivals.

Several spectators, who attend court hearings in the case, have worn shirts featuring the boy’s picture, and the phrase “Justice for Alexavier.”

Zachar said bringing in a jury from another county might be cheaper than moving the trial outside La Crosse.

Josie Dikeman and attorneys appear before Judge Elliott Levine on June 18, 2024, in La Crosse County court (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke believes that most people in the county, who might be eligible for the jury, don’t know much about the Dikeman case. He doesn’t know whether that would change in the next year before a trial.

Zachar called much of the discussion of the Dikeman case in social media “inflammatory,” and compared it to the Adam Fravel murder trial in Winona, Minn., which is being moved out of the county because of pre-trial publicity.

Levine called on people who comment on the case in social media to “tone it down,” and he plans for another court hearing in November before deciding on where to have the trial.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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