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Munday wants defense attorney taken off case

January 06, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Days before his "three-strikes" trial is set to begin, David Munday, the man convicted of shooting a West Virginia State Police trooper in the head more than a year ago, asked Monday that one of his attorneys be removed from the case.

Munday, 38, of Hedgesville, W.Va., made the request during a routine status conference before Circuit Judge David Sanders Monday afternoon.

"I just don't feel he has my best interests at heart," Munday said of defense attorney Robert Barrat.

When Sanders asked whether Munday has had problems communicating with the attorney, Munday said "yes." Munday said he does not want his other attorney, Margaret Gordon, removed from the case.

Sanders said he will consider the matter during a follow-up hearing set for Wednesday, the day before Munday's recidivist, or "three-strikes," trial is scheduled to begin. If jurors find Munday was the same person convicted of three separate felonies - two in Maryland and those related to the shooting of Trooper R.J. "Bobby" Elswick - he will face a sentence of up to life in prison.

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Munday made the request verbally; he did not have a written motion prepared.

Barrat said he was not aware Munday was going to make such a request.

"I'm being singled out, your honor," Barrat told Sanders, adding later, "I've tried very hard in this case."

Gordon requested that Barrat remain on the case because they have worked together extensively for months preparing Munday's defense.

Munday's request was not the first asking that people be removed from his case.

Three weeks ago, Barrat filed a formal written motion asking that Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely be removed, saying she was prejudiced against his client. Sanders denied that motion.

Also during Monday's hearing, attorneys on both sides discussed how many potential jurors should be called for the recidivist trial.

V.J. Brown, a sociology professor at Shepherd College, said finding an impartial jury could be a problem, Gordon said. She asked that all 150 jurors in the current pool be called for jury selection, citing extensive media coverage of the case, including Munday's trial in October.

Games-Neely said she believes calling 50 jurors would suffice, since the trial will center only on whether Munday is the same person convicted of the various felonies. The entire shooting case will not be rehashed, she said.

In October, jurors found Munday guilty of 21 charges related to the shooting that wounded Elswick, including five counts of wanton endangerment with a firearm, one count of unlawful assault of a police officer and four counts of attempted second-degree murder.

Elswick, who was shot once above his left ear and was not initially expected to survive, continues to recover at home from the wound.

Immediately after Munday's hearing, a related status hearing was held for Connie Harrison, 41.

Both Harrison and Munday face perjury charges related to allegations they offered two key witnesses in the shooting case $50,000 to either leave the state or change their testimony.

Jim Rich, filling in for Harrison's attorney, Craig Manford, said plea-bargain negotiations are under way.

Munday's trial on the perjury charges is scheduled to begin Feb. 10.

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