Mack Claims Ex-Lawyers Ignored Tips About Weapons In Reno Killing

Darren Mack should be allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas in the killing of his wife and shooting of a judge partly because his former attorneys failed to act after he told them about the whereabouts of weapons involved in the case, his new lawyers claim in a motion.

Mack told his previous attorneys that the gun and knife involved in the June 2006 killing of Charla Mack could be found at a Reno-area landfill, but they refused to tell prosecutors or look for the weapons, according to the motion filed late Friday.

Gina Crown, an investigator for new Mack lawyer William Routsis, said in a statement filed with the motion that Darren Mack told former lawyer Scott Freeman that the weapons would support his claim of self defense. Darren Mack claims that his wife pointed the gun at him before he stabbed her in self defense.

"Mr. Freeman told (Mack) that the weapons would not be looked for ... (Mack) believes that these items would contain evidence of what transpired on June 12, 2006, such as fingerprints, blood evidence, DNA, proof of misfired bullets, etc.," Crown said.

Freeman declined to comment on Mack's claims, saying he had not yet seen the motion.

Routsis said in an earlier motion that Mack was confused and in physical distress when he suddenly ended his trial last month by
pleading guilty to killing his wife and an equivalent of no contest to shooting the judge handling their divorce. He argued that Mack should be allowed to withdraw his pleas and go to trial on charges of murder and attempted murder.

Last month, Mack fired Freeman and David Chesnoff, hired new lawyers and asked the court to allow him to withdraw his pleas.

Routsis wants the judge to hold a hearing to discuss the gun and knife, and determine whether the weapons can be found, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

"Counsel intends to introduce evidence that Darren Mack requested time and again for the defense to locate the gun, along with the knife used by Mr. Mack in the ensuing struggle," Routsis said in the motion.

"What is of the greatest concern is that prior counsel not only failed to investigate or even attempt to find both weapons, they also failed to inform the prosecution of information both relevant and vital to properly investigate the location of the two most relevant items of physical evidence," he added.

Crown said she contacted the local waste management company about finding the gun and knife, and was told that if the address and date were supplied, they could "probably tell me where in the landfill that load of trash was to be found."

According to a statement in the latest motion, Mack's brother, Landon, said Freeman and Chesnoff initially assured him that Darren Mack would be acquitted.

But Landon Mack said his brother was pressured by Chesnoff to pay the two lawyers at least $1 million in attorney's fees by last August or they would withdraw from the case.

Once payment was made, Landon Mack claimed, they demanded another $100,000 for getting the trial moved to Las Vegas. But before the defense was to start their case last month, Darren Mack was told by his lawyers that he could not win the case, Landon Mack said.

Landon Mack also said Freeman told him that the gun and knife would never be found.
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Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-12-22-07 1814EST


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