Originally Published: April 10, 2011 10:02 p.m.
PRESCOTT - Quoting everything from the United Nations' guidelines for treatment of prisoners, to the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, to Senator John McCain on his days as a prisoner of war, the defense in the Steven DeMocker murder trial has filed a motion requesting their client be released on his own recognizance or moved to another jail facility, according to court documents.
In writing the motion, defense attorney Craig Williams argued that DeMocker, 56, has been held in custody for over two-and-a-half-years and in solitary confinement for six months. This, Williams claimed, is despite the fact that there is no physical evidence to tie DeMocker to the murder of his ex-wife, Carol Kennedy, in July of 2008, and that there is a "cast of characters large enough to fill a detective novel" who could have committed the murder.
"Unfounded suspicion was directed at the defendant the night of the murder," Williams wrote, "with no more substance than 'the ex did it - it's always the ex!' "
The motion claimed DeMocker is being held under conditions that "are not a humane arrangement." Williams said DeMocker is confined to a cell for all but 30 minutes a day and has not been outdoors since last September.
Asserting that "solitary should only be used in extreme conditions," Williams cited several sources, including McCain, who was held in solitary confinement as a prisoner of war in Vietnam (and who is quoted in a New York Times article as saying, "It's an awful thing - solitary"), a psychiatrist, and the UN General Assembly, which said "efforts to abolish the use of solitary confinement as a punishment ... should be encouraged."
Williams also claimed that DeMocker's Sixth Amendment rights were being violated because, while being held in solitary, he can't actively participate in his own defense.
Williams disputed the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office's claim that DeMocker is being held in solitary confinement for his own protection; he said the original reason for the move to solitary was a claim that DeMocker had been involved in a "beat down" of another prisoner, but that claim was never substantiated, and DeMocker was not subsequently moved back into the general prison population.
"The defense does not agree that there were ever any bona fide safety issues," wrote Williams.
The motion asked for DeMocker to be released on his own recognizance, given a lower bond amount, or moved to the Coconino County jail.
DeMocker next appears in court Monday.