Springfield attorney to assist with defense of Quincy man in 2019 murder case
QUINCY — A 2019 murder case that has been delayed multiple times because of changes in defense attorneys took a step forward Tuesday afternoon when a new attorney entered an appearance.
Carlos Williams, 58, appeared in a wheelchair for the first time in Adams County Circuit Court with attorney Nick Rober before Judge Tad Brenner. Mark Wykoff with Wykoff Law Office LLC in Springfield now will serve as co-counsel with Rober for Williams.
Williams is charged with two counts of murder and faces 20 years to life in prison if found guilty. He also is charged with possession of a firearm as a felon, a Class 3 felony.
He is accused of killing Orlando Smith, 20, by strangulation between May 27-30, 2019. Smith’s body was found May 30, 2019, in the 200 block of Koch’s Lane. Williams was arrested Nov. 19, 2019, when he appeared in court in an unrelated case.
Rober asked Judge Roger Thomson on Dec. 21 for appointment of new co-counsel when Public Defender Vanessa Pratt was allowed to withdraw on Dec. 16 when she accepted a job with Fourth District Appellate Court Justice Amy Lannerd to be one of three law clerks in her Quincy office.
Thomson had referred the matter to Todd Nelson in the Adams County Public Defender’s office. Nelson filed a motion to vacate the appointment of the office.
Public Defender John Citro claimed he had a conflict of interest as he withdrew as Williams’ counsel on Jan. 5, 2022, leading to the appointment of Pratt to the case. However, Judge Robert Adrian said Pratt didn’t have the experience to solely represent Williams. Rober, who has his own practice in Quincy, accepted an assignment to the case on Feb. 10, 2022.
Public Defender Christopher Pratt was assigned the case on Nov. 19, 2019, two days after Williams was arrested. However, he also claimed he had a conflict of interest when he withdrew as Williams’ counsel on Feb. 17, 2021.
Brenner then asked if discovery issues and issues involving experts had been resolved.
“I would like to get a feel for where we are in terms of getting this case set for trial,” he said.
Rober said Dr. Jane Turner, a forensic pathologist from St. Louis, is still reviewing autopsy slides that were delayed because of administrative issues delivering them to her.
“She now has received those, and my understanding is that the investigation and her report is ongoing,” Rober said. “It’s a couple of weeks since I’ve heard from (Turner), and that was just to confirm she had received the slides. I’ll follow up with her to find out where she is in that report and see if I can get an estimated time of completion.”
A March 7 status hearing was set for review, which Brenner said also would allow Wykoff time to review the case file.
Williams, who has been in the Adams County Jail for more than 38 months without receiving a trial, has a $5 million bond.
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