A Pulaski Circuit Court judge says he will set aside all of November, and part of December, if necessary, for the trial of Ford Motor Co. on reckless homicide charges.
Judge Harold R. Staffeldt on Monday set November 5 for the start of the trial, the first criminal prosecution of an automaker in the product defects case.
An Elkhart County grand jury indicated Ford last September, saying the fuel tanks on the Pinto model were designed recklessly. The case was sent to this rural community in April after Ford argued that heavy news coverage would make it impossible for the automaker to receive a fair trial.
The case stems from the deaths on Auguest 10, 1978, of three young women in a 1973 Pinto sedan that exploded when it was hit from behind.
The car in the dispute was one of about 1.5 million Ford Pinto and Mercury Bobcat subcompact sedans made between 1971 and 1976 that Ford said would be racalled because government tests showed the fuel tanks leaked in moderate-speed crashes.
Although the recall had been announced, modifications had not been made on the car in question because parts had not arrived.
Before setting the trial date, Staffeldt turned down Ford's motion to send the case to the Indiana Court of Appeals to settle pre-trial issues.