Man accused of 2004 Pocatello murder raises questions about legal representation - East Idaho News
Crime Watch

Man accused of 2004 Pocatello murder raises questions about legal representation

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POCATELLO — Brad Compher said during a pre-trial conference he is not happy with his lead defense attorney. A change in representation would cause the trial — which has already been waiting for 10 years — to be further delayed.

Compher, 48, faces a murder charge for the 2004 stabbing death of Nori Jones. He was arrested and charged with murder and a deadly weapons enhancement in 2014 after advancements in technology allegedly linked Compher to Jones’ death using DNA. He has been in Bannock County Jail custody for nearly 10 years but is scheduled for a jury trial, which is set to begin Feb. 20.

RELATED | Trial for suspect in murder that happened nearly two decades ago is delayed until next year

Jones was found dead in her home, on the 3600 block of Pole Line Road, on Sept. 28, 2004. An autopsy determined her cause of death to be multiple stab wounds.

During a hearing Tuesday morning, Compher told District Judge Javier Gabiola he is unhappy with his lead defense attorney, Bannock County Chief Deputy Public Defender J. Scott Andrew.

“I’m afraid. This is a serious matter, and I don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road,” Compher said. … “I don’t want to be represented by somebody who doesn’t want to do his job.”

Compher is represented by Andrew, public defender Rilie Fry and out-of-state death penalty specialist Gary Proctor. Addressing Gabiola, Compher said the only attorney with whom he has been able to communicate is Proctor, asking for Proctor to take over the lead in his defense.

However, Gabiola explained, Proctor is representing Compher pro hac vice — meaning he is not licensed to practice law in the state but is allowed to work the case in a limited capacity.

Proctor joined Compher’s legal team when the death penalty was still a possibility. And though Proctor was allowed to remain on the case despite the death penalty being dropped in 2022 due to Compher’s intellectual limitations, he would not be allowed to lead the defense team.

At one point, Compher suggested he may be better off representing himself.

Gabiola asked Compher if he wanted to request a change of legal representation, cautioning the defendant that a change to his team may lead to Proctor being taken off the case completely.

Compher stopped short of making that request, though he did continue to question Andrew.

“I’m not trying to bad mouth anybody, but I just don’t get how he functions,” Compher said. … “I don’t feel like I’m getting a fair shake here.”

He mentioned during the discussion that he needs his defense to be “assertive and direct,” qualities he said Andrew lacks. As he pointed out, Compher faces a potential life sentence — “this isn’t 30 days,” he said.

Gabiola told Compher that, for anything to be done, a written motion must be filed on Compher’s behalf. The judge asked Compher to discuss his issues with Andrew, who will then be required to file any motions — such as to withdraw as representation — by Friday. The motion will be considered by the judge then discussed during a review hearing on Feb. 5.

If a motion to withdraw is filed and accepted by Gabiola, the trial would again be suspended until a new attorney can be assigned to the case and be brought up to speed.

Gabiola granted Andrew’s request that a potential motion to withdraw be filed under seal, meaning that information would not be made available to the public.

Brad Compher at his initial booking

Prior to Compher’s questioning of his defense counsel, Andrew, prosecuting attorney Jonathan Radford and Gabiola discussed several motions and plans for the trial.

Among the items discussed was the logistics of bringing Brian Lee Draper and Torey Michael Adamcik from the Idaho State Correctional Institution in Ada County for testimony.

Adamcik and Draper were convicted in the stabbing murder of fellow Pocatello High School student Cassie Jo Stoddart in 2006 and sentenced to 30 years to life in prison. Both are expected to be called to the stand by the defense.

The Bannock County Sheriff’s Office would be tasked with transporting both men from the prison in Kuna and house them while they wait to testify.

As part of the same discussion, Gabiola confirmed with Andrew that the defense will introduce an alternate perpetrator.

There was also some question raised regarding the defense’s expert witnesses.

Radford told Gabiola the prosecution has not received details about the testimony the defense’s DNA expert will provide. Andrew agreed with Radford, saying there are parts of the expert testimony he does not want the prosecution to be privy to.

“The state’s entitled to have that report to review so they can provide a rebuttal,” Gabiola said.

Radford said, depending on what evidence and opinion the expert plans to testify to, he may object and motion to exclude that expert as a witness.

Andrew was told to file a written motion defending his plan to conceal some parts of the testimony, also by Friday. That motion will also be considered and discussed on Feb. 5.

Finally, the judge and attorneys discussed plans for trimming what is currently of pool of 201 prospective jurors to a group of 14 — 12 jurors and two alternates.

The pool will undergo voir dire — the jury questioning and selection process — in two separate groups on Feb. 20. Once the jury is set, the trial will begin.

Though Compher has been charged with these crimes, it does not necessarily mean he committed them. Everyone is presumed innocent until they are proven guilty.