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Motions hearing delayed in murder case

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Smoot gets new lawyer

By Damon Lawrence

A conflict has led to the appointment of a new lawyer for accused murderer Shawn Smoot, reports Assistant District Attorney General Bill Reedy.

Smoot is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Brooke Nicole Morris. Her body was found at Blair Road and Old Blair Road on Oct. 15, 2011. Police said she had been shot.
Last year Assistant Public Defender Walter Johnson was appointed to represent Smoot.
“The public defender determined their office had a conflict,” Reedy said.
Reedy said the conflict involved a state’s witness who was a former client of the public defender’s office.
“The ethics rules required them to withdraw from the case,” Reedy said.
Reedy said Knoxville attorney Bob Vogel has been appointed to replace Johnson.
Last month Reedy filed motions asking a judge to reconsider Smoot’s indigency status along with a request that he be forced to move.
Reedy said Monday’s hearing didn’t go forward because of the change in attorneys.  
“He’s (Vogel) not formally on board yet, so we couldn’t proceed with the motions this morning,” Reedy said.
According to one of the motions, Smoot is living less than 5 miles from Morris’ sister and brother-in-law in Corryton.
“The close proximity of the defendant in residence to the victim’s sister and family places great strain upon them, knowing on any given day and moment they may be confronted with the presence of the defendant,” the motion said.
Reedy also wants a judge to make Smoot surrender his passport and wear a GPS ankle bracelet.
“That’s still our request,” Reedy said Monday. “We just haven’t had a ruling yet from the judge.”
Attorneys are appointed for indigent defendants. Last year Smoot signed an affidavit claiming he was poor.
His parents posted a $250,000 cash bond in March to get him out of jail.  
Reedy’s motion questioning the indigency claims also references a marital dissolution agreement that called for Smoot’s ex-wife to pay him $71,600 in installments between June 2011 and December 2012.
“In addition to these amounts to be paid him for his equity in the marital home, it provided as of June 2011, he was to receive the following amounts of cash assets: an $8,194 IRA account, $1,800 Edward Jones investment account and $3,450 income tax refund for tax year of 2010,” the motion said.
“All of those assets were there and not even mentioned in the affidavit,” Reedy said Monday.
Smoot also didn’t state if he still owned his insurance agency business in Knoxville, if he sold it and for how much. 
Vogel, who also represents Roane County murder defendant Ralph O’Neal, has been accepted to the Trial Lawyers College in Wyoming.
The three-week course is scheduled to begin July 12.
Reedy said it could be November before a hearing is held on his motions in the Smoot case.
“Until the court rules otherwise, he’s (Vogel) appointed by the state to substitute for the public defender,” Reedy said.
“Our motion is just as relevant to him as it is the public defender’s office because it’s on the taxpayers’ money that he’s getting paid.”