The man charged with the 1999 death of Rhonda Mertes could be getting a new attorney – a week before he’s expected to face a jury.
Friday morning during a motions hearing James Emerson’s attorney, Peter Thompson, asked to be removed from the case saying he can no longer work with Emerson.
Thompson told Judge Greg Grau he felt threatened by Emerson Friday morning before the motions hearing started. Thompson said his differences with his client go beyond disagreements over strategy.
Emerson told the court Thompson was exaggerating and feels he would be best represented by Thompson.
After a recess, Judge Greg Grau says the trial will go forward as planned and he says there's been no indication throughout the proceedings that Mr. Thompson was not prepared to handled the case. Judge Grau continued by saying since the motion was made based on Mr. Thompson's concern for safety, proper security measures will be taken.
A jury from Iowa County will be hearing Emerson’s case because of the pre-trial publicity in the Wausau area.
The trial will still be held in Marathon County and is expected to run on even on Saturdays in an effort to speed up the case.
The state is relying on DNA evidence they say was found on Mertes’ body after she was found dead.
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