CINCINNATI -- The saga continues in the Anthony Kirkland resentencing case as a judge appointed new attorneys Monday morning, restarting the entire process.
Rich Wendel and Tim Cutcher now represent Kirkland, who was originally sentenced to death for killing 13-year-old Esme Kenney and 14-year-old Casonya Crawford in 2009 and 2006, respectively, and burning their bodies.
More than 100 potential jurors were ready to go for jury selection on Nov. 9, but a bombshell dropped instead when Kirkland's former attorneys, Perry Ancona and Norm Aubin, told Judge Patrick Dinkelacker that they had to withdraw.
"I've tried hundreds of murder cases," said Chief Assistant Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier. "I've never seen this happen before where somebody not representing him is actually talking to him when he's in the jail, basically undercutting two very good local attorneys, basically badmouthing them, calling them names, saying they don't know what they're doing. It's just really frustrating."
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters blamed a public defender in Columbus, Rachel Troutman, for advising Kirkland that she was trying to get Aubin taken off the case. That action forced Ancona and Aubin to quit.
"It's frustrating to have to call our victim's family's up and tell them that once again there's a delay in the case," Piepmeier said.
Ohio Public Defender Tim Young said he couldn't comment on any phone calls between Troutman and Kirkland because he hadn't been given access to the recordings. He said Troutman represents Kirkland in his post-conviction litigation in the First District Court of Appeals.
"I will not dignify (Deters') comments and allegations, beyond stating that Mr. Kirkland’s case is back before the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court because of the prosecutor’s improper statements to the original jury," Young said.
Kirkland's new attorneys will report within a few weeks to get up to speed for a new trial.