Crime

Modesto attorney accused of murder seeks his own clothes, no cuffs

Judge Socrates Peter Manoukian presides over Tuesday’s hearing. Depicted from left are Chief Deputy District Attorney Marlisa Ferreira, district attorney’s spokesman John Goold, Martha Carlton-Magana representing Baljit Athwal, defendant Frank Carson and Carson’s attorney, Percy Martinez.
Judge Socrates Peter Manoukian presides over Tuesday’s hearing. Depicted from left are Chief Deputy District Attorney Marlisa Ferreira, district attorney’s spokesman John Goold, Martha Carlton-Magana representing Baljit Athwal, defendant Frank Carson and Carson’s attorney, Percy Martinez. lmcadam@modbee.com

A Modesto defense attorney accused of murder is asking the court to allow him to wear his own clothes and be unshackled during all hearings concerning his case.

Attorney Frank Carson is accused of orchestrating a criminal conspiracy that resulted in the death of Korey Kauffman and the alleged cover-up of his murder. The 26-year-old Turlock man’s body was found in Mariposa County a year and a half after he went missing.

Percy Martinez, Carson’s attorney, filed a motion on Wednesday seeking a change in Stanislaus Superior Court security policy for inmates appearing for pretrial hearings. Only when defendants in custody reach jury trial are they allowed to wear their own clothing and appear unshackled in court.

“If defendant appears in jail clothing at any pretrial proceeding covered by either television or print media and is displayed to prospective jurors in jail clothing, they will naturally be led to doubt the presumption of innocence and defendant’s constitutional rights to a fair trial will be undermined,” according to Martinez’s motion.

Carson is charged with murder, conspiracy to obstruct justice and perjury. He is among nine defendants charged in Kauffman’s death, including his wife, Georgia Geanette DeFilippo She faces charges of murder and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Carson, his wife and three other co-defendants are being held without bail. Tim Pori, DeFilippo’s attorney, on Tuesday filed a motion to have his client unshackled while meeting with her attorney in jail.

Pori argues that his client has no prior criminal record or history of violence, and she has given no indication she’s a security risk. Yet, she was brought to an interview cell fully shackled with her “wrists painfully bound together,” according to Pori’s motion.

“The (jail) policy effectively forces her to choose between continuing the legal visit or terminating it in exchange for the cessation of pain,” Pori wrote in the motion.

Martinez on Wednesday filed a motion also asking the court to order jail officials to unshackle Carson while meeting with his attorney in jail. In a declaration from Carson, he details the experience of being shackled while in the attorney/client visiting room.

“When visiting my attorney in custody, I am being bound as follows: leg irons and chains put on my ankles, a ‘belly’ chain put around my waist to which is attached a box and handcuffs tightly clamped on my wrists,” Carson wrote.

He also says that writing during these meetings is impossible, and he can’t even turn a piece of paper. The cuffs cause great pain, cutting and bruising his wrists, causing his hands to swell up and go numb, Carson wrote. He said he has repeatedly asked for bigger cuffs, but his requests have been ignored by jailers. Like his wife, he says he cuts his attorney visits short because of the intolerable discomfort.

The accused attorney said he has been an officer of the court for more than 25 years, has never before been arrested, and has been a cooperative and compliant inmate.

“I am 61 years old, am diabetic and have blood pressure issues,” Carson wrote. “I am not a threat or security risk.”

The attorneys are expected to take up these issues Tuesday, when the defendants are scheduled to return to court for their continued arraignment and to further discuss their bail status.

Rosalio Ahumada: 209-578-2394, @ModBeeCourts

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