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9:37 AM Wed, Sept. 19th

Defense lawyer: Jail affecting DeMocker's mental stability

PRESCOTT - The attorney representing Steven DeMocker in his murder trial said his client is becoming mentally unstable due to his time in solitary confinement, according to a court document filed Tuesday.

Attorney Greg Parzych said DeMocker has been held in solitary confinement for seven months and kept in his cell for 23-and-a-half hours a day.

"His confinement conditions are beginning to affect Mr. DeMocker's mental stability," Parzych wrote. In a previous filing, he said, "He has not been outside since September 2010. This is not a humane arrangement."

DeMocker, 56, is accused of the beating death of his ex-wife in June 2008, and was placed in solitary in October. This, according to Parzych's filing, was because of an allegation that he ordered a "'beat-down' on an inmate, Jerald Lee, for which there was a very thorough investigation. However, there was no evidence that the defendant 'ordered' any beat-down."

Parzych said DeMocker was declining "all interviews on all topics."

A request to the Yavapai County Sheriff for clarification as to why DeMocker was being held in solitary confinement was referred to the County Attorney's Office, but that office did not respond by press time.

There is a gag order on the participants in this case, so neither the prosecution nor the defense were able to be interviewed for this story.

Sarah Edmonds, Ph.D., a Prescott psychologist speaking about the impacts of solitary confinement, said, "In general, in that kind of environment where one isn't getting any stimulation from others or exercise or even daylight, it is very destabilizing to a person psychologically."

"It can lead to emotional instability, because humans are social animals," she added.

Parzych said that the solitary confinement is "negatively affecting" his client's mental state. "Defense counsel has concerns as to whether Mr. DeMocker is going to be able to assist in his own defense if his current confinement conditions do not change."