Kimberly Lane, the 18-year-old California woman who was one of three suspects allegedly involved in the murders of a Golden Valley family four years ago, was back in Mohave County Superior Court Thursday.
Judge Steven Conn set Jan.
16 as the start of Lane's second murder trial.
She is again charged with three counts of first degree murder, one count of conspiracy to commit murder and armed robbery for her part in the murders of three people in August 1996.
Lane, of Lancaster Calif., who along with Bobby Poyson, 24, and Frank Anderson, 52, was charged with the murders of Leta Kagen, 37; her 15-year-old son, Robert Delahunt; and Roland Wear, 50.
Conn also appointed Kingman lawyer Eric Engan Thursday as Lane's defense attorney.
Engan represented Lane in her first trial in Kingman in the summer of 1998.
The Arizona Supreme Court recently refused to review a finding by the state Court of Appeals that overturned Lane's murder conviction last December sending her case back to Mohave County.
The Court of Appeals made the ruling on the basis that incriminating statements Lane made in an interview to a former Mohave County sheriff deputy should not have been allowed as evidence at her trial, state Supreme Court spokesman John MacDonald said.
"Because of the alleged statements she made to Deputy (Eric) Cooper being overturned, the state has more of a uphill battle against them," Engan said.
The Court of Appeals ruling remains an cloudy issue of whether the prosecution could still use the involuntary statements she made to Cooper, Conn said.
"The issue is whether the state is precluded from using involuntary statements made to law enforcement," Conn said.
My reaction is that they wouldn't be able to use it."
Conn also said the state could still use statements Lane made during her first trial.
Lane, who was 14 at the time of the murders, was found guilty in May 1998 and was sentenced a month later to 32 years in prison.
In overturning her conviction, the appeals court ruled that she was incapable of understanding her rights during questioning because of her age and reportedly low intelligence, records show.
Deputy County Attorney Derek Carlisle, who will again prosecute Lane, asked that Lane be held without bond after a request by Engan for Lane to be released from custody.
She has been held in custody without bond since her arrest four years ago.
Engan told Conn that Lane and her 3-year-old child could stay at the Kingman home of a private investigator hired by the defense.
"She has gone from a confused, poorly educated child to a 18-year-old who made herself employable and got herself a GED," Engan said.
"Instead of coming here with tattoos and a bad attitude, she has come here in a positive manner."
Carlisle countered saying that her murder charges are a serious matter and that she has no ties to Mohave County.
"The crimes were committed as she was passing through the county, starting in California and ending in Illinois, Carlisle said."
Conn, agreeing with Carlisle that she has no ties to the county, set her bond at $177,000.
Carlisle also said that despite the state Court of Appeals overturning her conviction last year, the state still has a strong case.
Carlisle said one point in his favor was that she was already convicted by a jury in the first trial.
He did not say if he would use Poyson or Anderson as witnesses against her.
The Supreme Court also overturned Anderson's conviction in June and his second trial is expected to begin in Mohave County Superior Court in February, records show.
Poyson was sentenced to death in November, 1999.
The Supreme Court upheld his conviction and death sentence in July and he remains on death row, records show.
In court documents, testimony showed that on Aug.
12, Lane allegedly lured Delahunt into a small travel trailer on Kagen's property where Poyson and Anderson allegedly killed him with a knife.
It was reported that Poyson and Lane then allegedly borrowed .22 caliber bullets from a neighbor.
Later that night after cutting the telephone lines, Poyson and Anderson allegedly shot Wear and Kagen and the suspects fled to Illinois in Wear's pickup truck.
They were arrested in Illinois two weeks later.