The attorney for accused cop killer Columbus Allen Jr. II is still attempting to delay the murder case and made a second effort to disqualify the trial judge Tuesday, all while his client tried to fire him.
The developments come less than three weeks before the scheduled start of the murder trial in the case of California Highway Patrolman Earl Scott, who was slain near Salida in 2006.
Tuesday, Allen spent 1½ hours behind closed doors trying to persuade Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Hurl Johnson to fire court-appointed attorney John R. Grele of San Francisco, the second time in two weeks Allen has tried to oust his lawyer.
Johnson denied Allen's request and Grele declined to comment on the ruling.
Called a Marsden hearing, the discussion is closed to all but the judge, defendant, defense attorney, bailiff and court reporter. Even prosecutor Alan Cassidy was barred from the courtroom.
Grele filed a petition with the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento seeking to delay all court proceedings and Allen's July 26 court date.
Allen's trial was moved to Sacramento because of extensive publicity about the case in Modesto.
Grele has appealed Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette's decision to preside over Allen's trial despite attempts to take him off the case.
In a decision released last week, Marlette said Allen in 2006 exercised his one chance to disqualify a judge without having to state a reason for doing so. State law gives defense attorneys and prosecutors the right to file one affidavit per case claiming prejudice by a judge.
The Allen case is more than four years in the making, with four postponed trial dates and three changes in his lead defense attorney.
Even Grele asked to be taken off the case in late May after two years heading Allen's defense, citing family issues and a lack of funding for the defense.
Allen, 34, of Stockton is charged with killing Scott about 4:40 a.m. Feb. 17, 2006. The slain officer was found at the edge of northbound Highway 99, south of Hammett Road near Salida, holding registration papers for a Nissan Maxima registered to Allen's wife, Bertera.
The Stanislaus County 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 at the jail in downtown Modesto.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2337.