FEAR murder suspect to get new attorney - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

FEAR murder suspect to get new attorney

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Heather Salmon sat in court beside an empty chair where defense attorneys normally sit.

She and her attorney both requested that he be dismissed from the case after Salmon's mother was arrested for threats against the attorney and an assistant district attorney. 

Salmon faces murder charges in the 2011 deaths of Michael Roark and Tiffany York. Prosecutors have contended Salmon's husband, Christopher, and three other soldiers executed the couple because they knew of the soldiers' plan to seize weapons from Fort Stewart and help overthrow the federal government.

Prosecutors previously described that Roark was a soldier and knew the militia members. Defendants testified they killed the couple because they suspected Roark planned to flea the group and tell authoriites about their plot.

Salmon was the only defendant not present at the murders and she is the only one not to face a possible death penalty. Christopher Salmon and the other three men pleaded guilty and all face life in prison.

With those cases completed, prosecutors focus on Heather Salmon.

In a hearing on Thursday, Judge Robert Russell informed Salmon and District Attorney Tom Durden that she would receive a new public defender.

Defendants who don't have the funds to hire a private attorney can request a public defender assigned by the state. Judge Russell noted the public defender's office typically does not replace an appointed attorney fired by the defendant.

York's mother sat through the brief hearing and admitted afterward that she views Salmon differently from the men who carried out the murders.

"As I mother, I can't see how a mother - someone who's given birth - could hurt someone else's child or be part of it," Brenda Thomas said.

Durden said Salmon could be back in court in a few months if the state appoints a new defense attorney quickly.

Thomas vowed to see the case through to the end.

"This one may take a little time, but that's all I have left," she noted.

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