MUNCIE, Ind. - With his client's murder trial scheduled to begin in six weeks, a defense attorney has been told he can't leave the case.
Mark Nicholson - an Indianapolis lawyer who represents Muncie resident Jason De'Andre Harris - last week filed a request in Delaware Circuit Court 5, asking to withdraw.
Harris, 33, is set to stand trial beginning Jan. 9 on counts of murder, criminal confinement, unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, obstruction of justice and theft.
He is accused of fatally shooting Erik Sparks, a 28-year-old Muncie man, on the Cardinal Greenway last Feb. 7.
In seeking to leave the case, Nicholson told Judge Thomas Cannon Jr. there had been "a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship."
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In a Monday ruling, however, Cannon said Harris' trial date was too close to allow for a change in attorneys.
He noted both the defendant and Nicholson had been at pre-trial hearings together as recently as Oct. 20 and Oct. 27.
Delaware County Prosecutor Eric Hoffman had filed an objection to Nicholson's request to leave the case.
Hoffman noted in part that a relative of the slaying victim was terminally ill, and that a delay in the proceedings could prevent that person from seeing the case resolved.
In May, Nicholson filed documents suggesting his client, with "a history of mental illness," was not legally competent to stand trial.
Douglas Walker is a news reporter at The Star Press. Contact him at 765-213-5851 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Muncie Star Press: Judge says defense attorney can't withdraw from Muncie murder case