The murder trial of a man accused of killing his landlady and burning her body in a car was continued indefinitely Tuesday after one of his attorneys was allowed to withdraw.
Scott Robert Speakman was scheduled to go to trial this month in Forsyth Superior Court on charges of first-degree murder in the death of Loyola Strader, 63, in November 2006. He faces the death penalty.
Vince Rabil, one of Speakman's attorneys, was allowed to withdraw as counsel after a closed hearing in Superior Court on Tuesday morning.
Judge Edgar Gregory cleared the courtroom and allowed Speakman, Rabil and Clark Fischer, Speakman's other attorney, to be at the hearing. Dudley Witt, who represents Rabil, was also at the hearing.
Forsyth District Attorney Jim O'Neill and Assistant District Attorney David Sipprell left the room.
After about an hour, Gregory reopened the room and announced that he had found good cause to allow Rabil to withdraw as counsel. He ordered that the transcript of the closed hearing be sealed and the reasons for Rabil's withdrawal kept confidential.
Gregory was supposed to hear pretrial motions this week. Now that Rabil has withdrawn, the N.C. Office of the Capital Defender will assign Speakman another attorney; death-penalty defendants must have two attorneys representing them.
(source: Winston-Salem Journal)