Woman charged with Angoon killing can't locate defense lawyer

Judges orders Office of Public Advocacy to show cause why it shouldn't be held in contempt

Posted: Sunday, September 07, 2003

The woman accused of killing Richard W. "Buddy" George Jr. in Angoon in July had a question for the judge in court Friday.

Denni R. Starr, 22, charged with second-degree murder, wanted to know what was supposed to be going on. She couldn't ask her attorney. No defense attorney had shown up.

Juneau Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks ordered the Office of Public Advocacy, which represented Starr at previous hearings, to show cause why it shouldn't be held in contempt for failing to represent Starr.

The Office of Public Advocacy represents indigent defendants when conflicts of interest prevent the Public Defender's Office from doing so.

Weeks told Starr the scheduled omnibus hearing was supposed to be a time for attorneys to tell each other what is going on in the case. He said the hearing is supposed "to keep the case moving along. Obviously it didn't happen today."

Weeks rescheduled the hearing for Sept. 15. In August, he scheduled Starr's trial to begin Dec. 1 in Angoon. Starr is accused of fatally stabbing George in the back July 26 while he held their 17-month-old daughter in his arms in the Angoon residence George and Starr had shared.

In court Friday before the hearing, Weeks' assistant unsuccessfully attempted to contact an Anchorage attorney to appear telephonically on Starr's behalf, and to contact Juneau attorney Philip Pallenberg, who represented Starr in August on behalf of the Office of Public Advocacy.

Pallenberg could not be reached for comment. A woman in his office Friday said he was out of town.

Although hearings have been held in Juneau courtrooms, Starr's case was filed in Sitka. The court clerk's office in Sitka said Friday afternoon that no motions concerning Starr's legal representation have been filed since the Office of Public Advocacy was appointed as her counsel in July.

Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.

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