NEW INFO: Search Continues for Attorney for Man Convicted of Mertes Murder

   Two attorneys appointed to represent convicted killer James Emerson say they can

James Emerson

Two attorneys appointed to represent convicted killer James Emerson say they can't do it because of a conflict of interest.

The 45-year old Emerson wants to appeal his conviction for the 1999 murder of Rhonda Mertes in Wausau. He was found guilty in February and sentenced to life without parole.

According to online court records, a judge ruled that Emerson is eligible for a public defender for the appeal earlier this week. However, two lawyers appointed since then say they cannot do it because of a conflict of interest. Another hearing on the matter is set for Thursday morning.

Emerson went through 5 attorneys before his trial. And the attorney who did end up representing him, Peter Thompson, tried to have himself removed from the case days before it started, saying he didn't feel safe dealing with Emerson. The judge denied the request.

Authorities say Emerson beat Rhonda Mertes to death in an abandoned area of Wausau. He was arrested years later after advancements in forensic technology linked his DNA to the scene.

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