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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : local April 16, 2014

3/11/2012 9:58:00 PM
Why DeMocker has two county-paid attorneys
Scott Orr
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - Each time accused murderer Steven DeMocker has appeared in court for the past year, he has been accompanied by two lawyers working under contract for the Public Defender's Office, Craig Williams and Greg Parzych. These two attorneys are paid by Yavapai County because DeMocker claimed he was indigent and could not afford to retain his own legal representation.

But hold on - DeMocker is not facing the death penalty if he is convicted. That's the usual standard for having two public defenders working a case, and it was the situation in 2010 when his first trial started. During that first trial, however, the prosecution reversed itself and took the death penalty off the table.

So why does DeMocker still have two lawyers?

The answer, according to the head of the Public Defender's Office, Dean Trebesch, is that this is a "unique" situation.

"The case is remarkably unlike any non-capital case I have seen for its extraordinary complexity, multitude of serious and difficult issues, heavy reliance on a vast array of expert witnesses by both sides, and the necessity of having to react to a pattern of ongoing [evidence] disclosures," Trebesch said.

The fact that a new trial was set after DeMocker's legal team withdrew during his first trial, citing a conflict of interest, made it important that the new team could quickly get "up to speed," Trebesch said. Also, because the court wanted to move as fast as possible, he felt it necessary to assign two attorneys to deal with the "boxes and boxes" of evidence and paperwork.

Williams has already protested in court that the defense does not have the "army" of staff available to the Yavapai County Attorney's Office (YCAO) and can't prepare as quickly. Visiting Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe has expressed on several occasions his desire that the pretrial process get over as expeditiously as possible so the trial can proceed, even suggesting that trial prep continue during the run-up to a hearing on whether the YCAO should be disqualified from the case.

"Finding a single attorney willing and able to take on this monumental task in the given time at the pay rate I was offering would have been extremely unlikely," Trebesch said. "In fact, it took me a considerable period of time to secure these attorneys, [even] knowing they would not have to go it alone."

And, had he found one lawyer willing to take the case alone, "the case would reasonably have not been ready now for this new trial and would not have been ready to proceed until sometime well down the road," he said, which would be "neither cost efficient nor in the interests of justice."

Fair play has been a factor, too; Trebesch noted that "the prosecution has always had two attorneys on this case," and that is highly unusual for a non-death penalty case.

Chief Deputy County Attorney Dennis McGrane said the decision to have two attorneys on the prosecution's side - Steve Young and Jeff Paupore - was an "internal resource issue," and added that they do assign two to a case from time to time.

One of Trebesch's goals was to make sure that, whatever the decision the jury reaches, there would be "as little likelihood of future appellate reversal for defense failures, as practical under the circumstances."

Related Stories:
• DeMocker's 'docugate' claim goes back to Court of Appeals
• County Attorney's office turns to 2 Phoenix attorneys to defend itself

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Article comment by: Difference of opinion

It seems like most people who went to a crime scene and learned of an unexpected death of a family member would be more concerned for the victim than themselves. Most people would press investigators for answers about the deceased instead of inquiring if he were a suspect. Being self centered at a time like that seems more creepy and less sensible to me.

Posted: Sunday, March 18, 2012
Article comment by: Sure O.K.

Yes, in the massive documentation of Democker's case testimony suggests he asked if he was a suspect before he was told how the victim has died. Creepy!

Posted: Saturday, March 17, 2012
Article comment by: Blogger cares more about the victim than about the truth

I don't remember reading any accounts saying the accused walked up to the officers and asked out of the blue if he was a suspect. It is not at all surprising an innocent person would say something like that in a tone of disbelief when faced with sudden hostile questions from police.

Posted: Saturday, March 17, 2012
Article comment by: To M

His actions seem oddly suspicious as did his question, "So, am I a suspect?" All before being told his ex wife was murdered. For all he knew(?) at that point was that she had died and police were on the scene. Wouldn't that be a strange thing to ask if somebody told you that one of your family members had just passed and that police were investigating why that had happened? Remember, the scene was said to be staged like a fall. No, not an investigators, just a citizen who has followed this case closely because I care about the victim and seeing justice served.

Posted: Friday, March 16, 2012
Article comment by: To

His actions appear to be those of a guy who doesn't trust the YCAO/YCSO. Looking at how this has all played out, can you blame him? Fair minded folk don't cast judgement before a defendant has an opportunity to tell their side of the story. Why can't you do the same? Do you work for the county, or are you a willing apologist for their incompetence? This case is a mess! Now the YCAO has to go hire their own legal counsel! On our dime!

Posted: Friday, March 16, 2012
Article comment by: Not Exactly, Just Saying

DeMocker asked if he was a suspect before he was ever questioned at the police station. In fact, it was one of the first questions HE ASKED POLICE when he drove out to the scene. Who does that?

At the station police photographed scratches, oozing cuts and he admitted he had been in his ex wife's neighborhood. He also mentioned money early on. HHHMMMMMM. Nobody saw him (?) Look to the one who lawyers up first, as did DeMocker. Why did he hide evidence? Why did he initiate his own investigation?
I would call him an idiot for not have a legal and moral plan B.

Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2012
Article comment by: Just Sayin'

On the night of the murder, this guy was interrogated all night by the cops before he even bothered to get a lawyer. Then they told him he was a suspect. If he DIDN'T go out and get a lawyer the next day, you'd be calling him an idiot. Just sayin'

Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2012
Article comment by: To Rita and others

Anyone following this case can plainly see the trial has been put off on several occasions. The first trial only made it half way because the defendant's legal team petitioned the high court to resign from DeMocker after his antics and additional felony charges racked up while in jail. The other two trials didn't go anywhere because the defense team either was never prepared or are trying to avoid it. Murder charges aren't dropped because of documents being misfiled. Murder charges don't just go away, especially when there is evidence including the researching and planning of the crime. Most of the evidence is circumstantial, however there is physical evidence as well. The charges will not disappear, and DeMocker will face trial somewhere, sometime.

Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2012
Article comment by: Flee Maybe or Maybe Not

But who lawyers up the day after the murder, secures an important and sought after piece of evidence with said lawyer and begins an independant investigation? Actions like those speak volumes.

Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Article comment by: Your logic is flawed

Contemplating flight does not prove that someone committed a crime. It merely proves that someone fears being punished for a crime. There's a significant difference. "Guilty people flee" you might say. But so do innocent people who fear wrongful prosecution. That is a fact.

Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Article comment by: Would You Prefer That All Violent Suspects Not Be Jailed?

Murder is a violent crime and many who have killed do so again until the person is caught and locked away. Or commit other crimes. Rita appears to be advocating that we should allow everyone accused (via probable evidence procedures) of a crime to remain free until his or her trial is concluded and the suspect is found guilty. She seems to have forgotten that there was evidence that DeMocker was planning to flee (2nd passport obtained under false premises, getaway bag hidden away near DeMocker's home, motorcycle packed with GPS maps of Mexico, books secured about living life as a fugitive, etc.) What are the chances that DeMocker would still be around awaiting his trial? Rita may think it is worse for one innocent person to be jailed than a hundred guilty persons to go free but I disagree. I would rather exercise caution and let the law sift out who is innocent and guilty without allowing the suspect to commit another crime or flee.

Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Article comment by: tell it like it is

amen rita. the court of appeals has much as told the county attorney that what they did in disclosing sealed documents is not only illegal but unethical. wake up citizens of yavapai county if you want justice your gonna have to go out of yavapai county to get it

Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Article comment by: Rita Stricker

I think the question that should be asked is how the county gets away with locking constitutionally innocent people for years (and DeMocker is by no means the first) awaiting trial. And Tom, after your eloquent defense of the second amendment in other posts, you are conspicuously silent on the guarantees and protections of number 6. Or haven't you read that far?

Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Article comment by: Remember the victim Carol Kennedy

Comments complaining about the financial concerns of this case are not well thought out. While time has passed and the initial sting of Carol Kennedy's horrifying killing seems to have been forgotten. Is money really the biggest concern here? Not to me it isn't. DeMocker deserves his day in court just as Carol Kennedy deserves her case to be heard and for a jury to decide who is responsible for her death and what the verdict will be.

Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Article comment by: Defense teams should have funding equal to that of prosecutors, and paid by public

How else can the concept of "innocent until proven guilty" be honored?

Why is justice administered on an ability-to-pay sliding fee scale?

If DeMocker is found not guilty, should he not be able to recoup all his defense expenditures, as well as damages incurred by his incarceration?

If not, why not?

What is your honest and fair alternatives?

Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Article comment by: Paging Barney Fife

These 2 public defenders probably work for chickenfeed, I bet $75/hr or so. The big boys get $350, and more when they are in court. This is not big money in the big picture.

Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Article comment by: Rita Stricker

@ Tom Steele -- the legal system is not complicated. It is unbelievably corrupt. Cases like DeMocker's only serve to remind us all what happens to Americans who stubbornly insist on their "right" to a trial.

Posted: Monday, March 12, 2012
Article comment by: Let's Get Real

I can't help wondering if there would still be two attorneys if DeMocker were uneducated and black or other minority? The reason the case has become so complicated is that DeMocker originally had a dream team of attorneys costing $2 million+ that could afford to file a mountain of paperwork that prosecutors had to answer. Half of the legal cost was paid by DeMocker and $1 mill was paid via his claim of indigency (at the same time $750,000 in life insurance proceeds was being channeled to DeMocker's defense). By giving into DeMocker's demands, YC has made the process so much more expensive.

Posted: Monday, March 12, 2012
Article comment by: Paging Barney Fife

First off, DeMocker is now broke for the rest of his life after paying the other 2 lawyers, who promptly bailed on him when the money ran out (anyone who tells you differently is waiting for the Easter Bunny). If this were a medical case the patient would have died long ago. I still think he'll probably die in jail. This thing is a laughingstock of a trial, unless you're Democker. Then it's a nightmare.

Posted: Monday, March 12, 2012
Article comment by: Perplexed Observer

How much MONEY has this case cost the taxpayers? And when will someone/anyone put an end to this? When we are totally bankrupt?

Posted: Monday, March 12, 2012
Article comment by: This Is Outta Control

This is getting ridiculous. Would this case get over with already. He did it, he didn't do it, just get it solved already. Let's just take a poll or flip a coin. All I reall see with this is that you are wasting tax payers money.

Posted: Monday, March 12, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Steele

One has to ask why is the American legal system so complicated? Why does it require an "Army" of lawyers and investigators for the truth and justice to prevail? I am just finishing a biographical book "Conrad Black" by himself a multi millionaire with businesses in three countries who was almost bankrupt by the legal profession in America. All this because the American legal system from judges to defense attorneys seem to respect each other much more than justice for the defendant or judicial blindness for the truth. The English court system from which our came is far more balanced than ours. Much room for improvement here.

Posted: Monday, March 12, 2012
Article comment by: Really What a Surprise

It's time to take down the circus tent and send the clown to the big top !

Posted: Monday, March 12, 2012
Article comment by: Common Senzi

If you're going to be held in solitary for month after month without a trial then I guess you deserve at least two lawyers.

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