Fatal police shooting attorney: Defense needs more funding

The attorney for a Tulsa man charged in the fatal shooting of a police officer says the defense is unconstitutionally underfunded for a death penalty case

Via AP news wire
Tuesday 15 February 2022 22:11
Officers Shot Oklahoma
Officers Shot Oklahoma

The attorney for a Tulsa man charged in the fatal 2020 shooting of a police officer on Tuesday filed a motion to dismiss the state's death penalty request, saying the defense is unconstitutionally underfunded.

David Anthony Ware, who faces the death penalty if convicted in the shooting death of Tulsa police Sgt. Craig Johnson, is represented by Kevin Adams, who was appointed to the case in July 2020.

After paying investigators and experts, the defense's two attorneys would be left with payment of less than $20 per hour, making it impossible to financially survive, according to the motion by Adams.

Adams told The Associated Press there should be no limit on funding for defendants facing potential capital punishment.

“Flat fees (are) not appropriate in a death penalty case,” Adams said. “I’m not telling people you can’t kill people if you want to, but you’ve got to give them a fighting chance” with appropriate funding for the defense.

Adams said he has forgone other court appointed cases that would pay him about $155 per hour.

Tulsa County assistant district attorney Kevin Gray said he could not comment on the filing.

“That's between (Adams) and the court, that's not something we have a say in,” Gray said. “Pay is something for the courts to address.”

The Tulsa County public defender's office, which was initially appointed to defend Ware, withdrew from the case, citing an unspecified conflict of interest.

Adams' motion alleges the conflict is because Johnson was involved in a romantic relationship with a member of the public defender's office and was social friends with other public defenders.

Calls to the Tulsa County public defender's office rang unanswered Tuesday.

Ware, who is charged with fatally shooting Johnson and wounding Officer Aurash Zarkeshan during a June 2020 traffic stop, has pleaded not guilty.

Co-defendant Matthew Hall, who authorities said drove Ware from the scene after the shooting, is serving a 24 year prison sentence after being convicted on two counts of being an accessory to a felony.

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