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Sat, Jan. 18

Judge orders DeMocker, prosecution to discuss plea deal

PRESCOTT - Despite both the defense and prosecution's statements that they have no interest in pursuing a plea deal in the Steven DeMocker murder trial, a judge has ordered that they meet to discuss the possibility.

In separate filings, each party had confirmed that they did not want to participate in a settlement conference as suggested by Yavapai County Superior Court Presiding Judge David Mackey in August.

DeMocker's retrial on a charge that he murdered his ex-wife, Carol Kennedy, in 2008 is now scheduled for February 2012.

In a new order, Mackey ruled that he has the authority to compel the parties to meet and consider a plea agreement, but, because he may end up hearing the case himself, he did not want to conduct the conference. He appointed two retired judges to lead the proceedings, Judge Ronald S. Reinstein and Justice Michael D. Ryan, and set the settlement conference for two days, Nov. 15 and 16.

The paperwork to be filed with the court should include, Mackey wrote, "new or different suggestion(s) for resolving the case, which may not have previously been communicated to the opposing party."

Mackey also responded to a motion filed by defense attorney Craig Williams asking, among other things, that Mackey assign a judge to the case. Mackey had previously suggested that he might reassign Judge Warren R. Darrow, who, he said, has been very busy with another major case, the James Arthur Ray sweat lodge trial.

In his response, Mackey said, "While this court continues to explore the options for a judge to conduct that trial starting in February 2012, this case remains assigned to the Honorable Warren Darrow. A judge is assigned to the case."

Mackey ruled that Darrow could consider a new Motion to Modify Release Conditions filed by Williams. That motion is intended to get DeMocker out of his extended time in solitary confinement by allowing him to bond out of custody.

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