PROVO -- An accused participant in a May contract killing finally received a defense lawyer Tuesday morning.
Danny Leroy Logue, 45, will be represented by private defense lawyer Richard Gale after a judge said he must have an attorney. Logue faces one count of aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, as well as other charges for allegedly participating in the shooting of Andy Wendell Purcell on May 16 in Provo. Purcell died a day later from his wounds.
Gale was hired by the Utah County public defender's office as conflict counsel in the case. Along with Logue, prosecutors also have charged Yuri Sanchez Lara, 35, and Darrell Wayne Morris, 38, with aggravated murder and other charges related to the slaying. Lara is represented by private attorney David Brown, while Morris is represented by a public defender. Gale was brought in because the public defender's office could not represent two co-defendants, and because Gale is qualified to defend clients facing the death penalty.
Gale said that the delay in finding Logue an attorney resulted because county prosecutors are still deciding if they will pursue the death penalty in the case. Defendants facing the death penalty have to be represented by lawyers carrying specific qualifications, but a relatively recent law allows prosecutors to wait until 60 days after a defendant's arraignment to announce their decision to pursue capital punishment. None of the men charged in the case have been arraigned yet.
Gale also said that the long delay in finding Logue an attorney has negatively impacted the case. Gale said that the time immediately after charges are filed is extremely important for defense lawyers because the more time that passes the more difficult it becomes to gather evidence from the scene of the crime, cellphone companies and other entities. In addition, Gale said that if a defendant is eventually convicted of a capital offense the fact that he went months without a lawyer could be a factor in overturning that conviction.
"As soon as they charge aggravated murder they need to get counsel for this guy," Gale added.
Prosecutor Curtis Larson said that the death penalty remains an option that prosecutors are carefully considering.
"We take the decision of whether to pursue a death penalty case very seriously and it weighs very heavily on us," Larson said. "And we want to make sure we make the right decision."
Police have described Purcell's murder as a contract killing, with Lara paying Morris an ounce of methamphetamine for the shooting. According to arrest documents, Lara was upset because he believed Purcell had informed police about their mutual, illegal drug activity. Logue was present at the killing, police report, and became physically sickened by it.
Logue, Lara and Morris all have another hearing scheduled for July 19.