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Barker pleads not guilty in Block case

Thomas Barker

One of the men involved in the alleged abduction of Jasmine Block last year has pleaded not guilty to the six charges he faces.

Thomas Barker, 32, of Carlos, appeared in court Tuesday, April 10. He faces two counts of kidnapping, two counts of criminal sexual conduct, second-degree assault and false imprisonment.

Barker's lawyer, Justin Braulick, is seeking to move the case to a different county in the event of a trial, citing concerns of publicity. County Attorney Chad Larson opposed this move and Judge Timothy Churchwell took both sides under advisement.

Barker also entered a speedy trial demand, meaning a jury trial has to occur within 60 days unless the judge finds there is good cause to extend that trial date.

A settlement conference for Barker has been scheduled for 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 3. This serves as a last opportunity for parties to settle on their own before a case goes to trial.

Jasmine Block gained national attention after police say she escaped from three men after being held captive for nearly a month. She disappeared from her Alexandria home in August.

The other two men charged in the case have court appearances next week. Joshua Holby, who pleaded not guilty to two counts of kidnapping and false imprisonment on Jan. 11, is scheduled for a settlement hearing on Thursday, April 19, at 9 a.m. Steven Powers, who faces charges of kidnapping, first-degree criminal sexual conduct and false imprisonment, is scheduled for a contested omnibus hearing at 9:30 a.m. Friday, April 20.

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

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