The three men accused of being involved in the killing of Coventry tattoo artist Mark Nesmith following a confrontation on a petrol station forecourt are to stand trial in November.
The trial of Uzair Hussain, Uzair Hussain and Sebastian Vastaki-Barsby, which is expected to last for two to three weeks, will be heard at Birmingham Crown Court.
The three men appeared at Warwick Crown Court for a plea and trial preparation hearing after being charged with the murder of 35-year-old Mr Nesmith on June 12.
His death followed a confrontation at the 24-hour BP service station in Butts Road, Spon End, Coventry, allegedly involving the three defendants, the previous day.
Prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith said he died as a result of a stab wound to the side of his head, but also suffered two further knife wounds.
The incident is said to have followed a confrontation between the defendants, who were in a Renault Megane, and the occupants of a taxi included Mr Nesmith who, with a friend, had gone to buy some alcohol.
Mr Nesmith was rushed to hospital in a critical condition, and police enquiries turned into a murder investigation after he died.
Smith (21) of Attoxhall Road, Wyken, Coventry, who is accused of actually inflicting the injuries, pleaded not guilty to Mr Nesmith’s murder.
After some hesitation, he also denied possessing an offensive weapon, a knife, at the petrol station.
And Judge Andrew Lockhart QC observed that his defence appeared to be ‘self-defence, and reasonable excuse for carrying the weapon,’ which was confirmed by his barrister Simon Hunka.
At the request of their barristers, Vastaki-Barsby (18) of Barkers Butts Lane, Coundon, and Hussain (24) of Craners Field, Radford, both Coventry, were not arraigned on the murder charge.
It is anticipated there will be legal arguments in relation to the case against them at a future hearing in front of Judge Paul Farrer QC, who is to hear the trial.
That hearing will take place at Birmingham Crown Court on August 31, and Judge Lockhart ordered that defence case statements should also be served by that date.
The judge said other cases had been moved so the trial could begin at Birmingham Crown Court on November 14.
And he told the barristers: “That is quite an early trial date, but if I don’t seize that date, you will be looking at a date at this court in June next year.”
Adjourning the case for trial, Judge Lockhart, who is the newly-appointed Resident Judge at Warwick Crown Court and Honorary Recorder of Coventry, remanded Smith and Hussain in custody.
Tom Schofield, for Vastaki-Barsby, made an application for him to be granted bail, which was opposed by Mr Grieves-Smith.
After hearing submissions from both barristers, the judge said: “Despite a powerful application being made, bail is refused. He will be remanded in custody.”