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The state's highest court will hear arguments in January on State Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco's bid to get back into the prosecution of the eight suspects indicted for the death of Kevin King two years ago, court officials said Friday.

The Court of Appeals in Albany, which agreed in August to consider the state's appeal, has ordered legal briefs submitted by mid-December.

During a session Jan. 8, the court will hear Vacco's complaints about his removal from the case last May 31 by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Rochester.

The Rochester court ruled that Vacco had never sought the required permission of Gov. Pataki to enter the local criminal case.

King, 28, of Olean, was fatally beaten outside a Town of Olean coffee shop after he and two friends fought with as many as 10 others on Oct. 23, 1994.

Pressed by Randy King, the victim's brother, the Cattaraugus County Legislature brought Vacco and his office into the case in March 1995 after a grand jury failed to indict anyone.

After Vacco and several of his senior state prosecutors were deputized as Cattaraugus prosecutors, King's body was exhumed. A second autopsy listed his death as a homicide, and last November a second Cattaraugus County grand jury indicted the eight men and two women.

Two of the men were later cleared, but murder, manslaughter, assault and criminally negligent homicide charges are still pending against six men and two sisters who all are free on bail.

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