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Indiana justices to rule on lawyer in death penalty case

March 21, 2018

The Indiana Supreme Court will consider an appeal that challenges a ruling to remove a Fort Wayne defense attorney from a death penalty case.

Allen Superior Judge Fran Gull removed defense attorney Nikos Nakos from Marcus Dansby’s death penalty case in January, citing his lack of training in such cases, The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette reported.

Nakos contended that he’s qualified and has said the rules for training apply only to public defenders.

Norman Lefstein, dean emeritus at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law, has said state rules for lawyers in death penalty cases apply only to appointed attorneys. However, he said a judge can decide whether to remove an attorney.

Public defenders assigned to Dansby’s case after the removal filed paperwork in February seeking an appeal. The attorneys also questioned whether Gull violated Dansby’s constitutional right to the attorney of his choice.

Gull certified the request Tuesday. It now goes to state Supreme Court justices for consideration. Other actions in the case are halted until a decision is reached by the high court.

Dansby is charged in the deaths of Consuela Arrington, 37; Traeven Harris, 18; and Dajahiona Arrington, 18. Prosecutors filed four murder charges because Arrington, Danby's former girlfriend, was 8½ months pregnant.

Dansby was notified in January that prosecutors would seek the death penalty if he’s convicted.

Nakos has said that Dansby maintains his innocence in the slayings and has refused to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life without parole.

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