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The Journal Gazette

  • Dansby

Saturday, February 03, 2018 1:00 am

Death penalty trial slated for April '19

New defense team in quadruple slaying says it needs the time

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

Lawyers for a Fort Wayne man facing the death penalty for allegedly killing four people including his unborn child told a judge Friday it will take more than a year to prepare for his trial.

Marcus Dansby, 22, is charged in the murders of Traeven Harris, 18, Consuela Arrington, 37, Dajahiona Arrington, and the child she was carrying inside a home on Holton Avenue in September 2016. The child was later determined to be his.

Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull scheduled the trial for Aprilá15, 2019, after defense attorneys Michelle Kraus and Robert Gevers said they need time to gather evidence, conduct interviews and hire experts to help with the case.

“We're starting over,” said Kraus, who was assigned with Gevers to handle the case after Gull removed a private defense attorney last week.

The trial could stretch through May, Gull said.

The judge ordered Nikos Nakos off the trial, saying he is not qualified to represent Dansby because of his workload and lack of specialized training for capital murder cases. Nakos, who sat with Dansby's family Friday in court, has argued those requirements apply only to court-appointed attorneys under the state's rules for criminal procedure.

Kraus told The Journal Gazette on Wednesday she or Gevers will challenge Gull's ruling, and she reiterated that in court. An appeal had not been filed as of late Friday.

Nearly 17 months after charges were filed against Dansby, little work had been completed by Nakos for the defense, Gull and prosecutors have said. Prosecutors filed paperwork seeking the death penalty in January 2017.

Responding to a suggestion from Gull that a trial date be set for January, Kraus said she would need several more weeks to prepare. Kraus will serve as lead defense attorney.

State rules require appointed defense attorneys to complete training, have experience in a prior death penalty case and manage their caseload to ensure they can focus on the capital case.

The defense team meets those requirements, Kraus said.

She represented Simon Rios, who faced the death penalty a decade ago for killing his wife and three young daughters in 2005. Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards agreed to drop the death penalty in that case in exchange for his guilty plea.

Rios killed himself in prison.

Gevers, then the Allen County prosecutor, pursued and secured the death penalty in 1999 for Joseph Corcoran. Corcoran was convicted of killing at least four people including his brother, his sister's fiancÚ, and two of his brother's friends in Fort Wayne in 1997.

He is the only Allen County inmate on death row.