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July 28, 2014

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Special Public Defender’s Office gets OK to withdraw as counsel to suspect in Strip shooting

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Steve Marcus

Ammar Harris, the suspect the Feb. 21 Las Vegas Strip shooting and car crash that killed three people, is escorted into the courtroom at the Regional Justice Center Wednesday, April 17, 2013.

Strip Shooting Suspect Makes Court Appearance

Ammar Harris, the suspect the Feb. 21 Las Vegas Strip shooting and car crash that killed three people, appears in court at the Regional Justice Center Wednesday, April  17, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Ammar Harris Back in Las Vegas

Ammar Harris is brought to the Clark County Detention Center on April 16, 2013, to be booked on charges related to a shooting and fiery crash on the Las Vegas Strip in which three people were killed Feb. 21, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Ammar Harris, the man accused of the February shooting on the Las Vegas Strip that left three people dead, has had enough of his court appointed attorneys.

Today in Clark County District Court, Special Public Defender David Schieck said his office's relationship with Harris, 27, was marred so badly that Harris was refusing to talk with his attorneys and preparing to sue them in federal court.

Judge Kathleen Delaney agreed to allow counsel to withdraw. The attorneys will hand over the case to lawyers from the Office of Appointed Counsel.

Schieck said he couldn’t go into detail about the breakdown of the relationship without violating attorney-client privilege, but he pinned the bulk of Harris’ discontent on the attorneys wanting Harris to waive his right to a speedy trial in his capital murder case.

Counsel had advised Harris that a little more than eight months was a scant amount of time to prepare a defense for a case in which the stakes are death, Schieck said, but Harris was adamant not wanting to delay the trial.

This put Harris in a Catch-22.

Getting rid of his attorneys because they want to delay his case would force the court to delay his case, Delaney pointed out. There is no way new attorneys could get up to speed on his case in time for Harris’ Dec. 2 trial date.

Harris told the judge he understood and was willing to suffer the holdup if it meant getting new attorneys. Still, he said he wasn’t ready to waive his right to a speedy trial without talking to his new counsel.

Schieck also indicated Harris took issue with how his attorneys handled his defense in an unrelated rape case. Harris was found guilty in September of three counts of sexual assault and one county of robbery for a 2010 incident.

“It is not uncommon for defendants that are convicted to complain about their counsel when that trial is over,” Schieck said.

In the capital case, Harris is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. Police reports and court records indicate that in the early morning hours of Feb. 21 in the valet area of Aria, Harris got into an argument with aspiring rapper Kenneth Cherry Jr. After the two drove off in separate vehicles, Harris is accused of shooting at Cherry’s car as they were driving north on Las Vegas Boulevard. Cherry subsequently lost control of the car, ran a red light and slammed into a cab, causing it to explode.

Cherry died, as did cab driver Michael Boldon, 62, and Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, 48, a businesswoman from Maple Valley, Wash., who was riding in the cab.

Freddy Walters, a passenger in Cherry’s car, was shot but survived.

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