The defense attorney for Columbus Allen Jr. II, accused of killing a California Highway Patrol officer near Salida in 2006, said Monday he wants to remove the trial judge from the case.
Minutes later in court, Allen tried to fire his attorney. He was denied after a closed-door hearing.
Allen’s attorney, John R. Grele of San Francisco, said he would move to disqualify Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette, challenging his ability to preside over a fair trial.
Allen’s trial was sent to Sacramento because of extensive publicity about the case in Modesto.
Never miss a local story.
Marlette took the case last October and the trial is set for July 26.
Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Hurl Johnson, who presides over pretrial hearings, questioned Grele’s timing.
“Isn’t it a little late for that?” he asked Grele.
Grele did not give a reason for challenging Marlette, but he doesn’t have to. State law gives defense attorneys and prosecutors the right to file one affidavit per case claiming prejudice by a judge.
Allen, 34, of Stockton is charged with killing CHP officer Earl Scott about 4:40 a.m. Feb. 17, 2006. The slain officer was found at the edge of northbound Highway 99, just south of Hammett Road near Salida, holding registration papers for a Nissan Maxima registered to Allen’s wife, Bertera.
The district attorney’s office has charged Allen with first-degree murder and three special circumstances that could lead to the death penalty. He is being held without bail.