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Tue, March 19

DeMocker to stay in solitary, judge rules

Steven DeMocker

Steven DeMocker

PRESCOTT - Steven DeMocker, who has been held in solitary confinement at the Yavapai County Jail since October 2010, will stay there, a judge ruled Wednesday.

DeMocker, accused of killing his ex-wife, Carol Kennedy, in 2008, is awaiting a retrial after his first one ended in a mistrial when the defense team abruptly quit.

His lead attorney, Craig Williams, said in a September motion that his client has already spent 11 months in solitary at the Yavapai County Jail "for no justifiable reason." He said that, while housed in that dorm, DeMocker's legal documents have been "read through" by guards and his cell has been searched.

Williams has asked for DeMocker to be moved from solitary more than once, and has been denied each time.

The exact reason DeMocker is being held in solitary has not been disclosed; however, it is widely believed that jail officials reported he ordered a "beat-down" of another inmate. When an investigation showed that he was not involved, Williams asserted, DeMocker was still kept in solitary.

Williams argued that DeMocker's Sixth Amendment right to participate in his own defense was being violated because the jail staff applied telephone calls to his attorneys to his daily 30-minute out-of-cell time. Williams said DeMocker must also do "all his cleaning, exercise, and communicating with his family" during that same period of time.

Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Warren Darrow said previously that he was not allowed by law to dictate the way in which jails house their inmates. The newest motion acknowledged that and suggested that Darrow lower DeMocker's bond so he could bail out as a remedy.

In Darrow's response, he wrote, "This court has previously expressed its concern over placing someone in solitary confinement for a prolonged period of time and has observed that, at some point, this type of condition, especially in the context of pretrial custody, could raise serious constitutional issues."

But he again denied Williams' request. "The court concludes, however, that the defense has not made a showing, either factually or legally" that DeMocker's constitutional rights are actually being violated.

He denied the motion without prejudice, which means Williams could refile it.

Darrow will not necessarily rule on the motion again, however, as he has announced him retirement from the bench in February. Yavapai County Superior Court Presiding Judge David L. Mackey has been making plans to replace him on the DeMocker retrial, which is slated to begin early next year. Mackey has said that only he or Judge Michael Bluff have enough time on their calendars to hear the lengthy case.


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