KINGMAN – Quinn Jolly has been named as lead defense counsel in the first-degree murder case of James Justin Rector after former defense attorney Gerald Gavin withdrew from the case due to conflict of interest.
Julia Cassels, who had been appearing on behalf of Rector at recent hearings, will remain as co-counsel.
Because prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, two attorneys are required for the defense.
Jolly has previously worked with the Maricopa County legal defenders office.
Blake Schritter, director of Indigent Defense Services, said Jolly was selected because he’s the most qualified death-penalty attorney and he has no other case load. He defended several first-degree murder cases in Maricopa County.
Rector is charged with the Sept. 2, 2014 kidnap, murder and sexual assault of 8-year-old Bella Grogan-Cannella of Bullhead City.
He has appeared at more than 20 pretrial hearings, with the next one scheduled Spet. 22 before Judge Lee Jantzen.
Rector’s defense team met with him on July 10 and avowed that a “conflict fatal to ongoing representation exists,” according to the motion filed July 19. “It cannot be resolved or avoided.”
Gavin is not the first defense attorney to withdraw from Rector’s case. In 2015, Public Defender Harry Moore withdrew from the case, also citing conflict of interest.