The Special Public Defender’s Office is seeking to withdraw from representing Ammar Harris, a self-proclaimed pimp who is charged in a Strip shooting that killed three people.
Special Public Defender David Schieck said in a motion filed earlier this month that it would violate Harris’ constitutional rights to force him to go to trial with “an attorney with whom he has become embroiled in irreconcilable conflict.”
Harris is facing the death penalty if convicted in the February shooting on the Strip that left three people dead. He is set to stand trial Dec. 2.
A hearing on Schieck’s motion is set for today before Judge Kathleen Delaney.
The Special Public Defender’s Office represents indigent defendants charged with serious crimes who cannot be represented by the Public Defender’s Office because of a conflict. Schieck’s office handles mostly murder cases.
Harris, upon his arrest, said he couldn’t afford a lawyer despite flaunting an opulent lifestyle on social media.
Schieck, in an affidavit that accompanied the motion, said there was a “breakdown of communication, lack of cooperation and lack of trust” between his office and Harris.
He would not detail what sparked the breakdown, citing attorney-client privilege.
Schieck also sought an ethics opinion from the State Bar of Nevada, which he said concurred with the move to withdraw as counsel.
“There has been a breakdown of the attorney-client relationship that is of such a nature and extent that defense counsel must bring the instant motion,” Schieck said in his affidavit. “This cannot be resolved by assignment to other deputies within the office.”
Prosecutors are opposing Schieck’s motion to withdraw as counsel.
It’s unclear if the death penalty trial will be delayed because of the dispute between Harris and his lawyers.
Last month, Harris was found guilty of raping and robbing a woman in June 2010.
The verdict was significant for prosecutors, who planned to use the convictions as aggravating factors when seeking the death penalty against the defendant.
The strategy to try the rape case first was a surprise to prosecutors, who expected delaying tactics from Harris’ lawyers as they have seen in most other capital murder cases.
Instead, Harris invoked his right to a speedy trial in both cases.
Harris, 27, is charged in the fatal shooting of reputed pimp Kenneth “Kenny” Clutch Cherry Jr. The two were driving separate vehicles on the Strip early in the morning of Feb. 21 when Cherry was shot, causing him to crash his car into a taxi.
The cab then burst into flames, killing the driver, Michael Boldon, and his passenger, Sandra Sutton-Wasmund of Maple Valley, Wash.
Harris faces nearly a dozen charges stemming from the shooting, including three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of discharging a firearm into a vehicle, five counts of discharging a firearm out of a vehicle and attempted murder.
In the rape and robbery case, a jury deliberated for about an hour before finding Harris guilty of three counts of sexual assault and one count of robbery. A sentencing hearing is set for Nov. 20.
Harris is jailed at the Clark County Detention Center without bail.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-1039.