A judge Friday set an April 10 trial date for a Tahlequah man charged with possession of a controlled drug.

Associate District Judge Darrell Shepherd, of Wagoner County, set the date for Mark James Mahaney, 22. Mahaney pleaded not guilty at his district court arraignment. Defense attorney Holli Chennault appeared with Mahaney and asked that he be allowed to remain free on his present bond.

Shepherd said Mahaney could remain free on the bond he previously posted. Assistant District Attorney Nikki Baker Dotson said prosecutors had no objection to the request, which is a standard at district court arraignments.

Some members of Mahaney’s family as well as other courtroom observers attended the brief hearing Friday. The case has gained some publicity of late due to it being passed several times. Chief District Judge Bruce Sewell assigned Shepherd to the case last week after Special District Judge Jeff Payton bound Mahaney over for trial on the charge.

Shepherd told attorneys all pre-trial motions must be filed by Feb. 3 and copies of the motions must be sent to him in Wagoner. He will hold a hearing on all motions Feb. 13 at 2 p.m. That is a jury trial week in Cherokee County, but prosecutors and defense attorneys said they would make themselves available for the hearing.

Shepherd also said Mahaney must be at the motion hearing. He said he cannot hold the trial then because of his caseload in Wagoner County and the next available trial docket in Cherokee County starts April 10.

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