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CHILD SLAYING Defender: Caseload's already full



Published: Tue, April 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



It will be up to Judge John Stuard to decide if the public defender should be removed from the case.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A 27-year-old Austintown woman facing capital murder charges may need a new lawyer.

Atty. Anthony Consoldane of the Trumbull County Public Defender's Commission told Judge John Stuard of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court that since Sherry Delker is facing the death penalty his office may not be able to represent her.

"We have two attorneys and we are able to handle two death-penalty cases a year," Consoldane said, during a brief hearing Monday.

"I already have that amount, plus I have a rape case in which the defendant is facing life in prison."

Delker was indicted last week on a charge of aggravated murder with a specification that the victim was under 13.

Police say Delker ran over her daughter, Samantha Martin, 6, on March 29. Delker is being held without bond in the county jail. Samantha's father lives in Warren, police said.

It will be up to Judge Stuard to decide if the public defender should be removed from the case .

Who would pay: If so, then the court will assign another attorney to represent Delker. Since Delker cannot afford legal representation, the court would pay the attorney.

The judge said the matter will be discussed at a pretrial hearing. Delker is scheduled to return to court at 1 p.m. April 25.

Consoldane said he did not know how much it would cost to hire another attorney.

"This should not even be a death-penalty case," Consoldane said. "The specification they are using to make this a capital case is that the victim was under 13, so if the child was 14 it wouldn't be a death penalty."

Prosecutor Dennis Watkins declined to comment.

Consoldane also said Delker is taking medication for a mental illness. He did not know the name of the medication, but he said she has been treated for schizophrenia in the past.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder in which a person has delusions and hallucinations.

Consoldane has said if he remains on the case, he will file a motion to have Delker declared innocent by reason of insanity.

About the case: Police said Samantha was killed around 8 a.m. on Prospect Street near state Route 46 in Mineral Ridge, next to St. Mary Church.

Scuff marks that could have been made when a body was dragged by a car were found on Prospect Street, and clothes were embedded in the pavement, according to an affidavit prosecutors filed with the court.

Crime lab officers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol also found a tire tread on Samantha's shirt that resembled the tread on Delker's front tires. Delker's vehicle is a black 1990 two-door Chevrolet Lumina.

Delker told police she went to the church to ask forgiveness after sending her daughter to a "better place."

The Mahoning County Coroner's Office said an autopsy showed that Samantha, who died of multiple internal injuries, had been sexually abused.

Mahoning County officials are investigating possible sex abuse. No charges have been filed.

Authorities in both counties are investigating because the girl and her mother lived in Austintown in Mahoning County, but the death happened in Trumbull County.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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