Ryan Riggs won’t stand trial for the May 2016 murder of Chantay Blankinship of Lake Brownwood until the fall of 2019 — probably in early October of that year.
    Those were among the details revealed in a pre-trial hearing Monday in 35th District Court. Riggs, 21, is charged with capital murder and could face the death penalty, although District Attorney Micheal Murray told District Judge Steve Ellis the state has not determined whether it will seek a death sentence.
    Riggs is accused by indictment of sexually assaulting Blankinship and beating and choking her to death.
    Deputies escorted Riggs, who has been in the Brown County Jail since his Nov. 15 arrest, into the courtroom. Riggs has a bond set in an unrelated illegal dumping case but bond has been denied in the capital murder case.
    Riggs walked past his parents, J.D. and Michelle Riggs, who were seated in the courtroom along with the family’s pastor, Ron Keener and Keener’s wife, Elaine. Keener was also the pastor of the 25-year-old Blankinship.
    Wearing orange jail clothing, Riggs took a seat at the defense table with attorneys John Wright and Alexander Calhoun of the Lubbock-based Regional Public Defender’s Office, which represents defendants charged in capital cases. The slender-built, youthful-looking Riggs — whose light brown hair was cut shorter than depicted in his jail mug shot — remained quiet.    At the prosecution table, Murray and assistant district attorney Elisha Bird were joined by Jane Starnes, a prosecutor in the Texas Attorney General’s Office who has joined the prosecution team in the Riggs case.
    Answering Ellis’ question, Murray said more investigative work needs to be completed before the state will decide whether to seek the death penalty. Murray said he couldn’t give Ellis a timeline as to when the state might make that choice.
    Ellis set another pretrial hearing for August and seemed surprised when Murray told him the case won’t be ready for trial until the fall of 2019. Wright also suggested September or October of that year, saying he thinks that’s reasonable.
    Ellis did not set a firm date but said it will likely be around the first of October. Ellis also noted the possibility of granting reasonable requests for continuances.
    “I want this to be done fairly for both sides,” Ellis said, but also said he doesn’t want the case to become a matter of “out of sight, out of mind.”
    As the hearing concluded, Wright addressed the matter of Riggs’ clothing. Wright noted that Ellis had earlier granted a defense motion to allow Riggs to wear street clothes rather than jail clothes for all court appearances. Wright said there might have been a jail “snafu” in the matter of Riggs’ clothing Monday.
    Ellis acknowledged he had granted the motion and asked Sheriff Vance Hill, who was present, about the matter. Hill said he will resolve the issue.