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Soldier gets new counsel, expanded charges

By Katherine Wartell

A Fort Riley soldier accused of a deadly New Year’s Day shooting in Manhattan was appointed new counsel Wednesday after his lawyer requested to be withdrawn from the case due to a reported conflict of interest. 

Daniel Parker, Junction City, appeared before Magistrate Judge Sheila Hochhauser with counsel Larry McRell, chief public defender for the North Central Regional Public Defender’s Office. McRell told the court he believed it would be best for Parker to receive new representation.

The conflict of interest apparently arose after the state expanded Parker’s charges to include the theory of pre-meditated first degree murder.

Parker was originally charged with first-degree felony murder for the shooting death of Frederick Beverly, 21, during a New Year’s party last January. That charge means Parker allegedly killed Beverly in commission of an inherently dangerous felony, that being the criminal discharge of a firearm.

The addition of pre-meditated first-degree murder means Parker could be charged for intentionally killing Beverly.

Both charges are a type of first-degree murder and both carry life sentences. The difference is that parole for first degree felony murder is 20 years, while parole for pre-meditated first-degree murder is 25 years.

In his motion, McRell provided a chronology of events leading to his withdrawal that included receiving notice of the amended charges and a witness list for the preliminary hearing, which apparently precipitated the conflict of interest.

He told the court that the withdrawal was not wanted by Parker or himself. McRell has been representing Parker for approximately 8 months.

Ron Evans, chief attorney for the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit, was appointed to replace McRell.

Parker will appear in court again on Sept. 19 at 9:30 a.m. with his new counsel to schedule his preliminary hearing, which had been set for Wednesday before it was continued.

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