State must help Muhammad defense | Arkansas Blog

Monday, January 11, 2010

State must help Muhammad defense

Posted By on Mon, Jan 11, 2010 at 11:24 AM

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Channel 4 is reporting that a judge has ordered the state Public Defender Commission to provide financial aid to the private attorney representing Abdulhakim Muhammad in the case charging him with the slaying of one soldier and wounding of another outside a Little Rock military facility. Lawyer Claiborne Ferguson had said he needed state support for expert witnesses and investigators to provide an adequate defense.

Judge Herb Wright's decision will be appealed. It would create an expensive precedent to open the use of public defender money as a supplement to privately retained attorneys. Questions were also raised in court Monday about Ferguson's qualifications to handle death penalty caess and the judge's effort to force the prosecution to provide a list of trial witnesses, a requirement that the prosecutor's office argued amounted to an impermissible local rule. The prosecution names all potential witnesses in the felony information, but not a commitment that all will be called. Trial developments can prompt changes in witness plans.

Brian Chilson photo of Muhammad taken at an earlier court appearance.

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