ST. ANTHONY, Idaho (KIFI) - Chad Daybell's attorney will still represent him after a judge denied his request to withdraw.
Attorney John Prior filed a motion on January 11th to Withdraw as Counsel because Daybell is unable to pay. Prior also said he needs another attorney who is capital qualified with the Public Defense Commission and can't hire one.
On Thursday, Prior argued his case before Judge Steven Boyce at the Fremont County Courthouse.
Prior said he has been trying to find a qualified attorney to help represent Daybell and has not been able to get one. Prior said he reached out to a private attorney and asked if he would consider becoming a death penalty qualified. He agreed to do it but the commission has not decided on it yet.
"I came to realize in late December that the amount of work that I'm going to need to perform before the trial was of such an extent that it would, in my opinion, create a situation where not all of the things that needed to be done for the trial commencing in April 1st could get done," Prior said.
Prior said because of that it is making it difficult for him to properly represent Daybell and that's why he filed the motion to withdraw.
"I want to state to the court that I don't desire to get off this case. I want to stay on this case. And regardless of Mr. Daybell's financial situation, I want to stay on this case. I could care less about the money. Mr. Daybell wants me to stay on this case," Prior said.
Judge Boyce responded saying that's not what the motion says, "Motion says you want off the case because it's going to cost too much for you to work that work it's going to take to get it through trial without compensation, right?"
"Judge, the situation is this is that when I say to the court and I'm saying that in all sincerity, I don't need to get paid for this case. The concern is this is that I at least at this prospective judge, I'm going to be doing this by myself and it's going to expend a lot of resources and a lot of time that I'm not going to be able to commit to other projects or other situations. Obviously, I'm not taking on a lot of other obligations because of this case," Prior responded.
"And I do want to get paid. And I think it's fair. And Mr. Daybell and I had a discussion about this. Mr. Daybell expressed to me that he doesn't feel comfortable with me continuing in this case if I'm not getting compensated for the work. And I advised him and told him that I don't need to get paid, I'm willing to do that," Prior said.
Prior asked the Judge to have a private discussion about the matter. The Judge agreed and asked the courtroom to be cleared except for the Prosecution team, Daybell, the court clerk, and the security team for Daybell to stay.
When the Judge reconvened, state prosecutors objected to Prior's request to withdraw because of the timing.
Lindsay Blake, prosecuting attorney for Fremont County said they were little confused. "It looks like Mr. Pryor was advised that if he could find someone else to assist in the case, that there may be funds available to help pay for that second attorney in later proceedings. It looks like the court revisited that issue when no other attorney made an appearance. And at some point in those proceedings, Mr. Daybell was asked and essentially waived his right to have capital qualified attorneys.
"When I said the state was a little confused today, the reason for that confusion is I'm referencing what was said in the motion, what's been presented here in court today is very different. So we have conflicting statements from defense counsel at this point. The motion read as if counsel was indicating, I cannot be effective if you make me stay on this case, I cannot be effective," Blade said.
Prior responded saying he has diligently tried to find co-counsel and hasn't been able to accomplish it. He said the state has five attorneys and he is by himself.
Judge Boyce countered that argument saying, "You've been working on this case for two and a half years by yourself and the state carries the burden at trial and they can prosecute a case they want. I completely agree with the state's position. The timing here, two months before trial is going to start, none of this is new at all."
After a short break, Judge Boyce came back and denied the request to withdraw. "Given the timeliness of the trial, I understand that may be difficult, however, we are where we are with this trial setting and because of the proximity of trial and the necessity of a continuance if this motion were granted, the Court finds that the motion fails to demonstrate good cause under the rule. For that reason, the motion is going to be denied," Boyce said. "And Mr. Pryor, you will continue to represent Mr. Daybell through these proceedings. That will be the ruling on the motion today. "