LANCASTER — A judge on Tuesday granted the motion of accused Berlin baby killer Roger Dana for a hearing to determine the status of his public defenders, who Dana wants replaced with new ones.
Dana, 44, is being held without bail. He was indicted in March by the Coos County Grand Jury on single counts each of first-degree and second-degree murder.
The state alleges that on Nov. 27, 2016, Dana murdered his 2-year old daughter, Madison, by physically assaulting her while subjecting the child to sexual contact.
Since being charged with the crimes last December, Dana has been represented by two public defenders: Tony Hutchins and Jeremiah Newhall. But on Aug. 18, the lawyers filed a motion in Coos County Superior Court saying that Dana, who is slated to go to trial on Aug. 31 of next year, wants new legal representation.
Dana, the pair wrote, “recently indicated to undersigned counsel to withdraw from his case and that he wants new court-appointed counsel. ...”
In its response, the state said it agreed with Dana’s motion insofar that the status-of-counsel hearing be held. The state objected, however, to the underlying substance of the motion.
“Although the state does not know the issue the defendant claims he has with his current counsel, the defendant does not have the right to unilaterally ‘fire’ his attorneys.” Those attorneys, the state continued, are “respected, capable lawyers, well-suited in their temperament for a case like this and a client like the defendant.”
While there are grounds for replacing counsel, including “a breakdown in communications, a conflict of interest, or an irreconcilable dispute” with the client, “there is no such evidence,” the state said, that such grounds exist.
Should the status-of-counsel hearing confirm that, the state has asked Justice Peter Bornstein, who granted the motion for the hearing yesterday, to deny Dana’s request for new counsel.