Attorney steps down from death penalty case

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Attorney steps down from death penalty case

Post  Jennie on Tue Jul 15, 2008 12:27 pm

Attorney steps down from death penalty case

A prominent defense attorney today became the latest casualty in the case of Blufford Hayes Jr., who awaits a new death penalty trial on charges he murdered and robbed a Stockton motel manager in 1980.

Attorney Ralph Cingcon asked to be dismissed from the case that already has cycled through at least 2 previous defense attorneys, the entire San Joaquin County bench and one visiting Santa Clara County judge.

Judge Philip Sarkisian – on loan from Alameda County Superior Court – agreed to dismiss Cingcon after a 20-minute hearing behind closed doors with Cingcon, Hayes and Sarkisian.

Sarkisian then explained in open court that Hayes’ sister was a witness in the trial that sent Cingcon’s brother to prison on a murder conviction, among conflicts. Cingcon took the case in recent months.

"I apologize for taking this case without thinking it through," Cingcon said, before patting Hayes on the shoulder and leaving the courtroom. Hayes is expected back in court next month in a search for a new defense attorney.

He was sentenced to death in 1982 for killing motel manager Vinod "Pete" Patel in 1980. A federal appeals court in 2005 tossed out the conviction, finding the original prosecutor made a secret deal with a key witness.

(source: Stockton Record)

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