Trial draws near for bonfire explosion suspect

Saturday, September 13, 2003

The man Cape Girardeau County detectives believe tossed a 5-gallon plastic gasoline container into a bonfire Jan. 18 appeared Friday in Perry County Circuit Court for a pretrial conference.

The jury trial for Jerry L. Self, 23, of Millersville is set to begin Oct. 22. The case was moved to Perryville on a change of venue.

More than a dozen party guests were seriously burned in the explosion at a party on County Road 621. Witness statements led Cape Girardeau County prosecutors to file 14 felony assault charges against Self.

Detectives say the three hosts provided three kegs of beer. But they won't be tried in Cape Girardeau County. Instead, 20-year-olds Jonathon W. Edwards, James R. McGhee and Tyler L. Gerlach were also granted a change of venue in April to Perry County. They are charged with a misdemeanor for possession of beer. Their cases are in a holding pattern while the prosecutor's office handles Self's trial, said assistant prosecuting attorney Jack Koester.

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