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6:35 AM Fri, Nov. 16th

DeMocker trial: Lawyers ask judge to hold off on 'Docugate' hearing

Steven DeMocker

Steven DeMocker

PRESCOTT - Both the defense and the prosecution have asked a judge to put off a scheduled hearing on the "Docugate" issue in the Steven DeMocker murder trial because the Arizona Supreme Court is preparing to hear the case and they can't be ready in time.

DeMocker's attorneys turned to the Supreme Court when the Arizona Court of Appeals last month denied DeMocker's claim that a judge's order to turn over sealed materials to an attorney for the Yavapai County Attorney's Office would "re-violate" DeMocker's rights.

DeMocker's trial on charges that he murdered his ex-wife, Carol Kennedy, in 2008 is on hold while Visiting Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe decides if the Yavapai County Attorney's Office should be disqualified from prosecuting the case because people in the office saw sealed documents related to the defense case.

Donahoe initially refused to hear such arguments, but the Court of Appeals found in favor of DeMocker and instructed him to hold a hearing.

DeMocker's attorney, Craig Williams, refused to turn over the documents to two Phoenix attorneys, Georgia Staton and Russell Yurk, who are litigating the case so that YCAO lawyers Steven Young and Jeff Paupore, who are prosecuting DeMocker, would not be exposed to the documents.

Williams said that to give up the materials to anyone would violate both DeMocker's Sixth Amendment rights and a previous judge's order not to disclose them.

He said that what the Court of Appeals mandated is "impossible," calling it "a giant Catch-22," and argued that only disqualifying the YCAO would work.

After the appeals court ruled against DeMocker, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. In the meantime, as has been his custom, Donahoe continued to set dates in the hopes that the trial could be expedited as much as possible.

Donahoe had ordered evidence be disclosed by June 27 in preparation for the hearing, which he set for Aug. 1, 2 and 3.

The motion, filed Thursday, said the prosecution could not be ready for that June date and that several "key witnesses" would not be able to appear at the hearing in August.

Both Staton and Williams requested that Donahoe vacate all the dates he set and that they wait until after the Supreme Court issues its decision before holding a status hearing to get everything re-set, if necessary.