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3:25 AM Wed, Sept. 26th

DEMOCKER TRIAL: 'Docugate' hearing set for December

PRESCOTT - On the heels of an Arizona Supreme Court decision to deny Steven DeMocker's appeal to have his "Docugate" complaint reviewed by the high court, a judge went to work setting dates for a hearing on the complaint in Yavapai County Superior Court.

DeMocker's trial on charges that he murdered his ex-wife, Carol Kennedy, in 2008 is on hold while Visiting 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.

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

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

DeMocker's attorney, Craig Williams, then 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 privy 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.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court denied DeMocker's request to review the Court of Appeals' decision, which sets the stage for Donahoe's hearing to move forward.

On Wednesday, he met with attorneys by telephone to hash out dates.

All parties agreed that Dec. 10-13 would fit their schedules for the Docugate hearing.

That date would push the trial into 2013, however. Donahoe, who has been urging the parties to proceed to trial quickly, said it was possible that the murder trial could begin in early January.

Courier reporter Lisa Irish contributed to this story.