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home : top news : top news September 30, 2014

5/22/2013 9:32:00 AM
Judge: Tough Luck For Accused Murderers
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Todd Wellington
Staff Writer

Patricia and Allen Prue must keep their court-appointed lawyers.

The Waterford couple accused of abducting and killing St. Johnsbury Academy science teacher Melissa Jenkins last year asked the court for new representation in separate motions filed in April.

But on Tuesday, Judge Mary Miles Teachout denied their requests, saying a criminal defendant is not entitled to a "harmonious" relationship with their lawyer, only to an effective attorney who can present an appropriate defense.

"There has been communication. It's just difficult communication," said Teachout.

Patricia Prue, 34, appeared before the court at 9:30 a.m. wearing French braids, a gray sweatshirt and shackles. She told the judge that her attorney, Marc Eagle of Lamoille, was not doing a good job.

"I was led to believe he has no way to defend me. They had nothing." said Patricia Prue. "When we come together it always ends up the same way. It always ends up with his personal opinion. I'd prefer somebody a little more open-minded."

"We've been at odds from early on," agreed Eagle, who asked to be removed from the case after Patricia Prue petitioned the court to fire him. "I would agree with Mrs. Prue. We're at odds in terms of assessing the case."


Allen Prue entered the courtroom in handcuffs at 1 p.m. and smiled at his mother, Barbara Prue, who was sitting in the front row of the gallery. He told the court he had a number of concerns about his court-appointed attorney, Dan Maguire of Essex.

"I feel he is just using my wife as a source of leverage against me," said Allen Prue. "I don't feel that's very professional. I just don't feel it's going to go very well."

Allen Prue also said he didn't think Maguire spent enough time with him and complained that he found out prosecutors had elevated the changes against him to first degree murder last summer from his fellow prisoners.

"They heard it on the news," said Allen Prue. "An inmate told me I had court the next day."

Maguire, who did not ask to be removed from the case, told the court he had already spent 20 hours in one-on-one, in-person conversations with Allen Prue, had an investigator on call that Allen Prue could talk to and had copied Allen Prue's mother on all documents and photos related to the case.

'I think I can represent him ethically and competently,' said Maguire.

Prosecutors are still gathering evidence in the case and Teachout told both Prues that it was not unusual to be without a defense plan at this stage of the process. Teachout also said it was not unusual for defendants to have disagreements with their lawyers and that a substitute lawyer would only be considered if communication had broken down to the point where an adequate defense could not be mounted.

"The standard is irretrievable difference," said Teachout. "That is not showing here. The indication is a disagreement."

Moments after the judge ordered Maguire to remain as Allen Prue's lawyer, he filed a change of venue request with the court seeking to have the trial moved out of Caledonia County. Eagle made the same request on behalf of Patricia Prue last summer; that request was denied at the time.

Allen Prue is being held at Marble Valley Correctional Facility in Rutland after pleading not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder. Patricia Prue is being held at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington after pleading not guilty to an even more serious charge of aggravated murder for allegedly taking part in the murder of Jenkins while "attempting to perpetuate sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault" on Jenkins.

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