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August hearing set for pastor

The government is expected to lay out its case against Hickman Pastor Doug Porter, who is accused of murder, during a twoto three-week preliminary hearing in Stanislaus County Superior Court beginning Aug. 20.

Attorneys involved in the case said Tuesday they are negotiating routine "discovery" matters, the legal term for investigative reports that authorities must turn over to the defense. Judge Loretta Murphy Begen said she will see them again on July 25, when she will check to see if they remain on track for a preliminary hearing that is needed to determine if Porter should be held for trial.

Porter, 56, was behind the wheel during two accidents involving Frank Craig, a rancher who entrusted his $1.1 million estate to Porter in hopes that the pastor would help build a museum showcasing farm equipment.

Investigators allege Porter drained Craig's accounts without making any progress on the museum. Craig was injured in a March 5, 2002, crash; he was 85 when he died in an April 22, 2004, wreck.

Porter has pleaded not guilty to murder, attempted murder and theft charges. He is held without bail.

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