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2/19/2013 10:00:00 PM
DEMOCKER TRIAL: Polk decries secret proceedings in hearing
Les Stukenberg/The Daily CourierYavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk examines an exhibit as she testifies in a hearing into whether the YCAO should be disqualified from prosecuting Steven DeMockerís murder case. At left, Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe looks on.
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk examines an exhibit as she testifies in a hearing into whether the YCAO should be disqualified from prosecuting Steven DeMockerís murder case. At left, Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe looks on.
Scott Orr
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, on the witness stand for most of the last day of testimony in Steven DeMocker's hearing to have her office disqualified from prosecuting his murder case, said her office should have been able to see documents DeMocker claims were confidential.

DeMocker is accused of beating to death his ex-wife, Carol Kennedy, in 2008, but his trial has been on hold for all of 2012 while the need for this hearing was argued.

On Tuesday, Polk, called by De-Mocker's attorneys, said that she did not personally make use of the OnBase computerized document storage system that allowed her employees access to documents the defense claims were intended to be seen only by the judge.

Defense attorney Greg Parzych, in making his case that Polk and her staff learned of DeMocker's indigency status by viewing documents that should have been off-limits, asked her if she had spoken to Deputy County Attorney Jack Fields, who may have read the material.

She said she had not, but that she'd learned of DeMocker's status from then-County Administrator Julie Ayers, who questioned the county funds being spent.

A good deal of time was spent discussing whether the state should be allowed to know that DeMocker was indigent and, if he was, whether Polk's staff should be privy to the names of experts hired before trial.

She said they should. She said an indigency hearing should not be secret, that a judge should make a "clear finding" of the reason if it is, and that, in the DeMocker case, her office had never been told about such a hearing.

When Parzych asked Polk if she felt the state should know who the "consulting experts" on the case should be, even if they wouldn't be called to testify at trial, Polk said that, if public funds were spent to hire them, then, yes. She added that it was "problematic" that the decisions were made in closed sessions.

"Is it your position that a lot of things were done wrong in this case?" he asked.

"I do find that the entire (indigency and expert witness hiring) process in this case is troublesome," Polk replied.

"So the process is flawed?" Parzych asked.

"I think the process was flawed," she said.

Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe asked Polk if seeing who the consulting experts are "would give you some insight as to the defense strategy."

"I disagree with that," she said, explaining that she herself had consulted with experts who she later discarded for various reasons. "Whoever they're going to use at trial, they're going to have to disclose to us."

In answering a question at the hearing, Polk spoke for nearly 15 minutes on her commitment to a high ethical standard, and her program developed to teach her staff and state law enforcement officers that "the ends do not justify the means."

Parzych pounced on that, asking how the staff could have read documents they weren't supposed to see if ethics were important to them.

"None of them appreciated that they were doing something they shouldn't have been doing," because they believed if OnBase granted access to the material, they were entitled to see it. Polk also said the "sealed" documents were not intended to be kept from the prosecution, but only from the public, and that "the notion that no one can see ex parte documents is absolutely false."

Polk said, "Nothing has been shown to me that my office is in possession of any information that would deprive Mr. DeMocker of a fair trial."

Tuesday was the final day of testimony in this hearing. Donahoe set closing arguments for April 4.

Related Stories:
• DeMocker document hearing wraps up

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: Court Denies Defendant Motion

Judge Donahoe denied a defense motion yesterday to continue oral argument rather than proceed to closing arguments. We will have to wait until the end of Docugate to learn the specifics of why the defense is unhappy. But I applaud Donahoe for trying his best to bring this matter to a close. The DeMocker trial has veered off on side issues for the last few years. It is time to get back to the murder of Carol Kennedy and hopefully find some closure on her death.

Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013
Article comment by: Read the Pleadings

Some of the prosecution arguments in Docugate are now posted online at the court website. No new insights. I am so sorry that the Court Clerk inadvertently caused such a mess with its distribution of court materials. The DeMocker trial (second) might be over with by now if not for this giant detour. There is no way Judge Donahoe will dismiss the case against DeMocker and the only question is where the case gets tried. If it is outside YC, it will be another year before the prosecution is ready to go. Interestingly the Alexander murder (Aries defendant) occurred only a few weeks before Kennedy's death in 2008 and that trial (the first) is just now winding down. So, I am not sure any other AZ county would have had better timing results for DeMocker. But maybe DeMocker can get the Aries prosecutor (tough) if the trial goes to MC and we can watch it live on TV.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: I Thought

Didn't I read somewhere that Carol's mother and brother also believed that DeMocker murdered Carol?

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Response to the *taxpayer cost doesn't matter* blogger

You assume the current defendant is guilty and that "justice" will only be seen by Carol's family "in time" through THIS trial. Have you ever thought about what it ought to mean to Carol's friends and family if her ex-husband and the father of her children is actually innocent? The evidence suggests other possibilities, including involvement of the mysterious tenant or one of the many dating service boyfriends. In contrast, there is no convincing evidence yet revealed proving the current defendant was at the scene and committed the crime.

By the way, how do you know Carol's mother's health is failing? (Another of Carol's friends or family members blogging anonymously?) How sad to think about the more likely scenario that Carol's mother might not see Carol's killer brought to justice because YCAO never sought and found him, or more likely "them" since there was DNA evidence found at the crime scene which points toward multiple male perpetrators.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: sonia sonia

The trial should be carried on an be done with. There is so much that hasn't even been discussed in the courtroom... that will be the interesting press to read... not all this crap. Let's get to the facts!

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2013
Article comment by: Arizona June Bug

Hey, folks. This is NOT a sporting event. The game doesn't get called on account of rain (delay.) Fouls on either side may be punished, but the "game" goes on. Every time the trial has been delayed, for whatever reason, DeMocker has waived (through his attorneys) his right to a trial within the statutory number of days (60?.) His attorneys have good reasons for recommending that he do that. I find it disturbing that he's been in county jail so long without a trial, but it's really not the fault of either side. They're each just doing their jobs, believe it or not.

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2013
Article comment by: how much has it cost...

A lot of talk about how much this case is costing the taxpayers...yet no one asks how much this case dragging on has cost Carol's family. God willing, Carol's mother will see this case end with justice served but frankly her health is deteriorating and that, folks, is the real cost. Carol was extremely close to her mother. Carol's death and justice not served has been a huge price. Much more so than the taxpayers money to prosecute. Let's get this trial back on track for all the right reasons.

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Article comment by: Legal Mumbojumbo Costs Taxpayers a Fortune

For goodness sake. Get this fiasco over with! Give him a fair trial, then throw his sorry butt in prison for the rest of his life! How long this endless legal mumbojumbo going to go on? Most of all, how much has this costs us taxpayers?

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Article comment by: Wow Bob You are SLOW

The number of appeals this defendant has filed has eliminated the possibility of a speedy trial. Take a look at this case and you will see that the defense has been the responsible party for dragging things out. He's had 10 different lawyers, some he paid $500K for their services but then quit because of ethical concerns after the democker family created a fake email claiming to know who the real killers are but turns out it was a complete fabrication by the one of the daughters (who comments here regularly under the name Paging Barney Fife and maybe even Bob Grant). So while this guy won't get a speedy trial, he will get a FAIR TRIAL after he exercises EVERY POSSIBLE AVENUE of appeal. BTW NBC Dateline has been following the case very closely and will be filming a story about it!

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Article comment by: to: Bob Grant

He had the chance of a speedy trial but DeMocker himself created the delays that has brought this trial to 5 years. IMO either he committed the crime and is creating legal road bumps in an attempt to find something technical to get him off of the charges, or he didn't commit the crime so he's creating legal road bumps to get off on a technicality. See the pattern....DeMocker himself (thru his attorneys) are/have been creating the delays.

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Article comment by: Bob Roberts

"Speedy trial" conditions only apply to delays caused by the prosecution. The defense can delay as much as it likes (assuming the judge agrees).

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: Give Up Already

YC obviously can't find the killer and couldn't possibly convict him even if they did. Drop it and move on before wasting more tax payer money.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: bob grant

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation to be confronted with the witnesses against him to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: bob grant

I could have been wrong but didnt the constitution have some thing to say about the right to a speedy trail.or was it the bill of rights.either way if the trial has to take 5 years because of incompetance then the whole should be thrown out and the folks who have jobs for which they have zero talent shall just have to deal with their own standards .

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: J Arnold

Please convict this guy and be done with it already. Five years to get this guy convicted is totally absurd. The defense needs to quit wasting valuable taxpayer resources. This case nauseates me.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: Far from over...

This thing has APPEAL written all over it.

If they drag it out long enough, DeMocker will simply die of old age.

I can only guess that by now he has the most seniority of the inmates at the jail, be they convicted or awaiting trial.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: Paging Barney Fife

This "trial" is 4+ years old and basically will have to start over again. By the time it does Democker will have been imprisioned for about 5 years. I've said it before: I think he will die before it's done. Which is a shame because he probably would have been found innocent. The people handling this are not competent to do a capital murder trial. That much is clear. Democker's original attorneys literally took the money and ran. I think the guy had some money at one time. I feel sorry for the guy. His life is basically over, and he maybe didn't do anything wrong. American justice!

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: Drop Murder Charges For viewing a Document?

Wow are the defense supporters optimistic! There is NO WAY on God's green earth that a murder charge will be dropped here. If anything, the defense case is now EVEN WEAKER because of their random attempts to derail the prosecution in WHATEVER manner possible. How about defending your client instead of attacking the prosecution? And how about commenting on the morality and integrity of the defendant instead of the prosecution? Oh yeah, you completely lack both! Good luck with the BIG HOUSE.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: Beau Zholay

Polk says: her office had never been told about such a hearing.
Wow, if I get on the high profile case tab on the Superior Court website, I can find several motions and exhibits showing that Polk's team participated in an indigency hearing.
Did she forget?

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: Freedom writer

For Christ's sake either convict this man of something or let him go.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: Heinous Crime Will NOT be Forgotten

This man is accused of beating his ex-wife to death with a golf club, and his defense is worried about the viewing of documents which detail WHO paid for expert testimony in his defense? What a SERIOUS waste of time and money. Guess this guy is not going to prison without a fight. Maybe next time he will pick a fight he could actually win cause he's about to lose this one BIG TIME. Boo Hoo defense - get used to being the loser because every challenge or appeal from here on out will be looked at as yet another DESPERATE PLEA.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: Soapbox Derby

"In answering a question at the hearing, Polk spoke for nearly 15 minutes on her commitment to a high ethical standard . . . that "the ends do not justify the means."

Judge Donahoe was burned by a similar high minded prosecutor in Mariocpa County. I hope the judge has learned that "actions speak louder than (15 minutes of) words," and he rules on her actions instead of her words.

Mike Palmer

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: Donahoe Has His Homework To Do

I do not envy Judge Donahoe's task. He has to sort through the previous indigency matter which may have gone awry, the OnBase court clerk breach of security and resulting aftermath, and then assess the actual impact, if any, upon the current DeMocker murder case. It is isn't sufficient that the prosecution might have been in a position to influence the case (assuming the team was saavy enough, instead it sounds more like most of the clerical and other staff were ignorant of what information they had). The appellate court has made it clear that actual prejudice to DeMocker's second trial case must have occurred. I am just not seeing any evidence that any action by the prosecution actually changed as a result of any access to privileged information.

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