Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
Thu, Dec. 05

Attorneys for Kingman murder suspect readies for second trial

A Mohave County Superior Court judge Monday refused to delay the retrial of Kingman man in the death of an infant 13 years ago.

Judge Steven Conn set an omnibus hearing for John Lee DeBarge Sr for March 24.

Duirng an omnibus hearing, a trial date usually is set.

Mohave County Public Defender Dana Hlavac asked that the omnibus hearing be held in six weeks instead of the usual three weeks.

Hlavac said his office does not have copies of some of the discovery evidence of witness interviews from Phoenix attorney Randy Papetti, who is co-counsel for the defense.

Conn, in refusing to delay the case further, said he was amazed that neither side had seen all disclosure evidence since the case returned to his court in July.

DeBarge faces the same charges of felony first-degree murder and one count of child abuse that he did during his first trial in July 1991.

DeBarge was tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison by a Mohave County jury for the shaking death of a 10-month-old girl in September 1990.

In April 2002, the 9th U.S.

Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a 2001 ruling by a U.S.

District Court judge that overturned DeBarge's murder conviction.


District Court Judge John Sedwick of Alaska overturned DeBarge's conviction in the infant's death, citing ineffective defense counsel.

After Sedwick's ruling, DeBarge was released from custody in Phoenix in 2001.

DeBarge was released on a $50,000 bond.

In DeBarge's first trial, the state's argument was that the infant died from extensive skull fractures while in DeBarge's care.

DeBarge's defense attorney argued that the girl fell from a highchair.

Three medicals experts testified for the state that the death was not accidental and that the injuries were not caused by a fall from the highchair.

The jury found DeBarge guilty and he was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 35 years for the murder conviction and a concurrent 22 years in prison for the child abuse charge, records show.

DeBarge's murder conviction was overturned because his attorney failed to research the subject of injuries of a shaken infant, did not provide medical experts on his client's behalf, and did not cross-examine the state's three medical witnesses, Sedwick ruled.

Sarah's House, the victim witness program that is part of the Mohave County Attorney's Office, was named after the child.

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