Originally Published: January 8, 2014 5:16 p.m.
PRESCOTT - A judge on Wednesday denied convicted murderer Steven DeMocker's motion for a new trial and took no action on a rights-violation complaint after a legal maneuver made the complaint moot.
DeMocker was convicted October 2013 in the July 2008 murder of his ex-wife, Carol Kennedy. He has been awaiting sentencing pending the outcome of Wednesday's hearing.
Defense attorney Craig Williams opened the proceedings by putting DeMocker on the witness stand for the first time. He testified that his Sixth Amendment right to an attorney was violated when the commander of the Camp Verde jail took him out of his cell to talk to him, despite his repeated complaint that his attorneys were not present.
He said Yavapai County Sheriff's Capt. David Rhodes first talked to him about requests for interviews by two television networks, telling DeMocker that he "wanted to hear it from (him)," not his lawyers, that he was interested in doing them.
Then, DeMocker said, Rhodes told him, "People are going to benefit from these interviews; people are going to make money."
Of course he realized that, DeMocker said, pointing out that the networks and their sponsors would "make money."
DeMocker added that Rhodes "clearly implied that those weren't the only people who might benefit. I realized he meant you two" - attorneys Williams and Greg Parzych - "might also benefit."
DeMocker said Rhodes went on to tell him that there was "something about the life insurance (payout) that still didn't feel right."
One of the counts for which DeMocker was convicted dealt with the fact that Kennedy's life insurance, intended for his daughters' education, ended up being used to pay his legal bills.
"It felt, to me, like something I shouldn't be talking about," considering his plan to appeal the verdict, he said. "It seemed unwise to make statements to him... that could be used against me at a later trial."
Deputy County Attorney Steve Young shut down DeMocker's rights-violation complaint in the first minute of his cross-examination, when he began to ask DeMocker about the night of the murder, saying he had given inconsistent statements to police.
Williams objected, arguing that, since he had not "opened the door" to questions about the murder, because he hadn't asked about it, Young could not ask about it, either. He complained that Young wanted to question DeMocker about the murder, which he couldn't do during the trial, because DeMocker did not testify. Williams said that, because DeMocker's answers could be used against him in his appeal, he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if Young continued to ask about the murder.
But Superior Court Judge Gary E. Donahoe said Williams opened the door by requesting a new trial, and that it went to DeMocker's credibility.
Donahoe said it was too late for DeMocker to invoke the Fifth. "He's waived his right to invoke and testify on certain topics and not others," because he had answered Williams' questions.
"If he invokes, I'm going to strike his entire testimony," Donahoe said.
After a brief recess, DeMocker refused to answer, Donahoe struck his previous testimony, and, without it, DeMocker had no case for a rights violation.
Donahoe then heard arguments on the concept that he could throw out the jury's verdicts and hold a new trial if he felt the verdict was "contrary to the law and the weight of evidence."
"I think this was a close case," Donahoe said. "If I thought for a moment that the jury hadn't followed the law... I wouldn't hesitate for a second to set (the verdict) aside.
"Mr. DeMocker got a fair trial," he added, and then denied the motion.
Donahoe set sentencing for Jan. 24.
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