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Convicted killer gets new lawyer

March 09, 2000|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A judge has appointed a new attorney for Michael Newell, who is serving a life sentence for the death of his niece.

On Feb. 22, Berkeley County Circuit Judge David Sanders appointed attorney Randy Rhodes to represent Newell, who filed a request for counsel three weeks earlier.

Newell's motion indicates that he wants legal assistance to challenge his October 1998 felony murder conviction.

"Several facts relevant to this case including unconstitutional grounds may exist," his motion said.

He requested Shepherdstown, W.Va., attorney Carmela M. Cesare or a lawyer outside the Berkeley County Public Defender's office.

Newell may seek a new trial through a writ of habeas corpus petition, but it's "just a legal proceeding...," Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said Wednesday. "We get them all the time."

Games-Neely said Newell appealed his conviction about eight months after the ruling was delivered, but the appeal was denied.

Newell is serving a life sentence without parole at the Mount Olive Correctional Complex.

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A jury in Berkeley County convicted him of murdering his 7-year-old niece, Jessica Newell, in September 1997. The prosecution said that Newell killed her after she resisted his attempts to molest her.

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