DeMocker defense moves to have case tossed, alleges prosecutorial misconduct
CAMP VERDE - Steven DeMocker's defense team filed a motion to dismiss his murder case for prosecutorial misconduct or, alternatively, to disqualify the Yavapai County Attorney's Office from prosecuting the case Monday afternoon, according to court documents.
DeMocker, 56, is accused of beating to death his ex-wife, Carol Kennedy, in July 2008. He is preparing for a retrial after his defense team quit during his first trial, bringing it to a quick end without resolution.
Attorney Craig Williams said the case should be thrown out because members of the County Attorney's Office, among others, "illegally viewed and printed ex parte pleadings using the OnBase system."
An ex parte pleading is one that is intended to be seen only by the party filing it and the judge. OnBase is the computerized document retrieval system used by the County Attorney's office.
Williams claims in the filing that ex parte filings were viewed and printed by the County Attorney's Office and Yavapai County Victim Services 60 times. He also asserts that those two agencies and the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office viewed and printed sealed documents 104 times.
"This was not a one-time peek at forbidden fruit," he wrote. "It was systematic." Williams said the actions constitute an illegal investigation.
In particular, Williams singled out Jack Fields of the County Attorney's office, saying he researched sealed and ex parte documents nearly 30 times. Fields often represents the YCSO, and Williams said, "The fact that their attorney, Mr. Fields ... has been spying on the court-ordered sealed ex parte documents is a gross Constitutional violation."
He also listed other employees of the County Attorney's office - Barb Paris, Barbara Genego, Deb Cowell, Kathy Durrer, Pam Spear, Paula Glover, Rhonda Grubb, Seretha Hopper, Tony Camacho and Marie Higgins of Victim Services, YCSO Det. Steven Page, and YCSO Det. John McDorment - and the documents he claims each viewed.
"What happened in this case is way beyond the pale," Williams wrote. "It is outrageous." He asked Judge Warren Darrow to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning it could not be refiled, or to disqualify the county attorney from prosecuting it.
"We dispute it (the allegations made in the motion) and will respond in accordance with the rules, said Chief Deputy County Attorney Dennis McGrane. He was unable to address specific claims because there is a gag order on the participants in the case.
DeMocker appeared in court on Monday also, for oral arguments on the motion to release him on his own recognizance, decrease his bond amount or move him to the Coconino county jail. His attorneys said the fact that he has been held in solitary confinement for six months, with just 30 minutes a day outside his cell, is beginning to affect his mental stability.
While Judge Darrow appeared to be somewhat sympathetic, asking if six months in solitary confinement is an "accepted sanction" for what DeMocker was accused of doing - ordering a "beat down" of another inmate - Darrow also said he was not certain that action to change conditions of custody by a judge was constitutional.
He will issue a written ruling on the motion at a later date.
Katie DeMocker, Steven's daughter, was in court Monday. The judge asked her if she had anything to say in regard to his decision on the motion, but she did not.