No new attorney for accused murderer Rivera
Trial set for July 29
KINGMAN - Accused murderer Michael Anthony Rivera's July 29 trial date remained on the calendar Thursday afternoon after Judge Steven Conn denied his defense attorney's request to withdraw from the case.
Defense attorney Stephen Duncan told Conn the attorney-client relationship had devolved to the point he could not adequately prepare for trial.
"I have irreconcilable conflicts with my client," said Duncan. "I don't believe I'm able to assist in the preparation of a defense any longer."
Duncan said Rivera has dismissed his advice not to communicate with the court or prosecutors.
"We have two contradictory opinions on how to proceed," he said. "There are definite irreconcilable conflicts and it's impeding my ability to practice law. I have other clients."
Deputy County Attorney Bob Moon told Conn he didn't believe Duncan provided enough information to justify his request, but he focused his attention on Rivera.
Moon provided Conn with case law regarding how a defendant's conduct could cause him or her to forfeit their right to counsel, but the judge didn't think Rivera's behavior was the issue.
A prior report in the Kingman Daily Miner erroneously stated Rivera fired two prior attorneys. He was allowed to terminate the representation of his first attorney. Duncan was the second attorney appointed to defend him.
"This sounds like old news to me," said Conn. "I thought we were proceeding along to trial ... I haven't received communication from the defendant for months."
Conn also noted Rivera's demeanor in court has always been respectful.
Conn said he was "troubled" by Duncan's suggestion that his law practice is suffering.
He questioned whether Duncan had "bitten off more than he could chew." He read state laws regarding attorney withdrawals from cases and said none of them applied to Duncan's argument.
"He may not be the easiest client and this isn't the easiest case to defend," Conn acknowledged before denying the request.
Rivera was charged with using his car to kill Nickolaus A. Gerenscer Jr., 23, on Nov. 24, 2011, in front of the victim's home in the 2100 block of Valentine Avenue.
Gerenscer was the boyfriend of Rivera's stepdaughter. Rivera allegedly struck him twice at a high rate of speed. Rivera allegedly also tried to strike the victim's father and brother that day.
According to those men, Rivera hit Gerenscer at a high rate of speed and then circled back to strike the victim again as he lay on the ground.
Rivera told Kingman Police officers the killing was an accident, but a number of witnesses disputed that contention.
He faces a charge of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault in the murder case.
Rivera also faces a felony charge related to the alleged assault of a corrections officer at the Mohave County jail last November.