Originally Published: December 21, 2013 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT - A conversation between Steven DeMocker and the commander of the Camp Verde jail did not violate DeMocker's rights, despite the fact that neither of his attorneys were present, a prosecutor with the Yavapai County Attorney's Office argued in a response to a motion requesting a new trial.
DeMocker, found guilty by a jury in the July 2008 murder of his ex-wife, Carol Kennedy, told his legal team that Yavapai County Sheriff's Captain David Rhodes pulled him out of his dorm on Oct. 14 and took him into the facility's video courtroom.
The verdicts in his case had been delivered, but he had not been sentenced when what defense attorney Craig Williams called "questioning" happened.
Williams said that, even though DeMocker reminded Rhodes that he was still represented by legal counsel, the session continued without his attorneys. Williams argues that was a violation of the Sixth Amendment of the U.S.
Constitution, which guarantees defendants "the assistance of counsel."
The two court filings don't agree on the topics discussed: Williams claimed Rhodes made reference to two network television news requests for an interview, but then began talking about Kennedy's life insurance payout, which was used to pay DeMocker's first legal team. He was convicted on charges relating to his use of the funds, which were not supposed to benefit him because he was a suspect in Kennedy's murder.
Deputy County Attorney Steven Young's response doesn't mention the life insurance policy at all; he said the two men had a "five- to 10-minute conversation" and that they talked about "the issue of media requests to conduct an interview with the defendant."
Young also disputes the need for counsel to have been present. "Not every intrusion in the attorney-client relationship results in a denial of effective assistance of counsel," he said. To constitute a Sixth Amendment violation, he added, DeMocker would have to prove that the intrusions were "purposeful" and that the state obtained evidence or learned of a defense strategy in the meeting.
"This brief contact clearly did not result in a violation" of DeMocker's rights, Young said.
Judge Gary E. Donahoe will hear arguments on the defense motion for a new trial in January.
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