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home : local news : local news

10/1/2012 3:48:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
McQueen's attorneys withdraw from case
LAWRENCEVILLE - There has been a major setback in the case of a Mount Carmel man accused of killing 78-year-old Robert V. Westall in late March.

During a pre-trial hearing Friday afternoon in Lawrence County Circuit Court, Tyler R. McQueen's attorneys withdrew from the case.

George Woodcock and William Hudson, Mount Carmel lawyers, had represented the 21-year-old McQueen since just after his arrest, six months ago.

During Friday's court appearance, Woodcock and Hudson talked quietly to McQueen for about 10 minutes, then asked the prosecuting legal team of Lawrence County State's Attorney Lisa Wade and special prosecutor Michael Vujovich to meet privately with them in the jury room.

After about five minutes, presiding judge Robert Hopkins, along with the court reporter and McQueen, also went into the jury room.

When the conference was over, the court hearing officially began with McQueen confirming to Hopkins that he was standing by his original plea of not guilty and was asking for a jury trial.

Hopkins then announced that Woodcock and Hudson had withdrawn from the case.

The judge then said he will seek another attorney to represent McQueen, at the cost of the county. Hopkins noted that he would have to find an attorney who is willing to represent McQueen and is properly qualified.

A status hearing was set for 11 a.m. Oct. 12.

McQueen faces three counts of first-degree murder in what has been described in earlier court hearings as a stabbing death.

Two different court dates had been set and vacated in McQueen's case. Several pre-trial hearings consisted of the four attorneys meeting privately. At one hearing in late August, a court date was set for the next week for what was described in open court as a possible plea hearing.

Attorneys met again prior to the court proceeding, but no plea hearing materialized.

McQueen is one of two people charged in Robert Westall's death in a Lawrenceville apartment. Helen Marie Westall, 47, Robert Westall's niece, is charged with solicitation of murder and solicitation of murder for hire. She is accused of offering then 20-year-old McQueen $10,000 and a 1995 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme in exchange for killing her uncle.

In early April, Helen Westall entered a plea of not-guilty to both charges. At that time, public defender Brad Vaughn was appointed to represent her.

While no new trial date has been set for McQueen, Westall's trial is set to begin at 9 a.m. Nov. 19 with jury selection.

All court proceedings for McQueen and Westall have been held in separate hearings. The two have never been in court as the same time.

Both McQueen and Westall are being held in the Lawrence County Jail in lieu of a $30 million, $3 million cash bond.


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