County Attorney wants Kennedy trust money back from lawyers
PRESCOTT - The attorneys who prosecuted Steven DeMocker's murder trial and won a conviction are now asking the judge in the case to re-open the Carol Kennedy probate case to try to get $700,000 paid to his former legal team back. DeMocker was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison last week for the murder of Kennedy, his ex-wife, in July 2008.
During the course of the trial, documents were shown illustrating that DeMocker tried five times to have the funds from Kennedy's two life insurance policies - one for $250,000 and another for $500,000 - disbursed to him, as he was the named beneficiary. The insurance company refused because he was a suspect in her homicide.
In March 2009, he signed legal disclaimers that said he would get no benefit from the funds. The insurance company then released the funds to the executor of Kennedy's estate, his daughter, Katie.
During the trial, Janice DeMocker, the defendant's mother, testified under a grant of immunity that Katie and DeMocker's other daughter, Charlotte, each transferred $350,000 to her joint account with DeMocker's father in August and October 2009.
When Deputy County Attorney Jeff Paupore asked Janice why the girls sent the money to her, she said, "I think it allowed them to pay us back... Steve had borrowed a great deal of money" for his defense.
In a recorded telephone conversation made from the Yavapai County jail, DeMocker said, "We need every possible dime" for his defense. Katie resisted, because she wanted to make sure there would be money for Charlotte's future education.
Ultimately, each daughter transferred their portion to Janice.
When the money was in her account, Janice said, she gave it to the legal team in his first trial: $200,000 to local attorney John Sears, and $500,000 to the Phoenix law firm of Osborn Maledon.
Paupore, in court documents, contends that "At no time did (DeMocker) intend to give up this money," and "the trustees violated their fiduciary duties under pressure from the defendant.
"It would be unconscionable for the lawyers to retain and enjoy money which rightfully belongs to the Virginia Carol Kennedy Testimentary Trust," he wrote.
Paupore is asking Judge Gary E. Donahoe to "consider the appropriate remedy to recover restitution... not only from the defendant, but from the recipients of his fraudulent scheme."
Part of DeMocker's sentence was to pay back the $700,000. But with the addition of a $150,000 fine and an 84 percent surcharge on it, it seems unlikely that he will ever be able to pay $976,000 on a prisoner's salary.
Sears said on Wednesday that he does not comment on pending legal matters. Osborn Maledon did not respond to a request for comment.
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