New attorney on board, judge tries to move Rector trial forward

Justin James Rector

Justin James Rector

KINGMAN – A solid trial is still a ways off, but things could be moving forward soon in the first-degree murder case of James Justin Rector.

Quinn Jolly was named as lead defense counsel earlier this month after former defense attorney Phillip Gavin withdrew from the case due to conflict of interest. Both he and Mohave County Deputy Attorney Greg McPhillips assured Judge Lee Jantzen Friday that both defense and prosecution have had conversations and exchanged CDs and other files in the courtroom.

“This is kind of a starting over,” McPhillips told Jantzen. “We want (the defense) to know what disclosure we’ve sent.”

Rector is accused of first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual assault and abandonment and concealment of 8-year-old Bella Grogan-Cannella. Grogan’s body was found buried in a shallow grave near the Walmart in Bullhead City. The crime occurred on Sept. 2, 2014, and it’s taken three years to examine the defendant’s sanity. This was Rector’s 21st appearance in Mohave County Superior Court.

Jantzen told Jolly this isn’t the time to start over, but get the case rolling.

“I don’t want to move backwards,” he said. “We need to get back on track and move forward.”

Rector’s next status hearing is at 11 a.m. Nov. 17. Defense asked the usual 1:30 p.m. slot be moved to earlier in the day so that Rector’s father could be present at the hearing, to which Jantzen approved.