SD judge: Confessed killer's defense 'first-rate'

  • Associated Press
  • October 25, 2013 - 6:05 AM

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A judge in Sioux Falls says a heavy workload for lawyers is not a good enough reason for a confessed killer to avoid the possibility of a death sentence.

James McVay has pleaded guilty but mentally ill to first-degree murder in the July 2011 stabbing death of 75-year-old Maybelle Schein in Sioux Falls. McVay told a reporter after his arrest in Wisconsin that he planned to kill and steal his way to Washington, D.C., to assassinate the president.

Minnehaha County Public Defender Traci Smith told Judge Peter Lieberman on Thursday that her office has too many clients to offer James McVay adequate counsel in his sentencing hearing next March. She asked Lieberman to bar prosecutors from seeking a death sentence.

Lieberman declined, saying McVay has received a "first-rate defense."

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