Claims defense attorneys withheld information prior to plea agreement


KINGMAN - A Bullhead City man who pled guilty in a child murder case in Dec. complained he was betrayed by members of his defense team Monday, two days before he was to be sentenced to prison. Justin Rector, 31, told Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen that it was a month after he pled guilty in the 2014 asphyxiation death of his friend's eight-year-old daughter that he learned members of his former defense team withheld information and evidence from him.

Rector told Judge Jantzen that he has emails showing two different defense lawyers instructed a mitigation expert not to share information with him. He said some of the withheld information included that the state did not have DNA evidence linking him to the victim's body and that footprint evidence at the burial site was not as solid as he had been led to believe.

“There's proof of my attorney deliberately and intentionally withholding information from me. I can't understand why she would do that," Rector said. “I feel that I was treated unfairly and I want to make a record that I was."

Judge Jantzen vacated the sentencing hearing and scheduled an evidentiary hearing on March 4 to take testimony from defense attorneys Quinn Jolly and Julia Cassels and mitigation specialist Rennee DeSaye.

Prosecutor Greg McPhillips agreed that the hearing is necessary but he said Rector will not be able to prove manifest injustice, a requirement for defendants to withdraw from plea deals.

“He pled guilty at the last hearing," McPhillips said. “I think this plea agreement will stand."

Jantzen can nullify the plea deal and schedule the case for trial or he can impose the life prison sentence that is mandated in the deal.

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