A judge has allowed two private lawyers to quit representing child-abuse suspect Shanesha Taylor, and has assigned a public defender to her renewed felony case.
One of the lawyers says Taylor stiffed him on his fees.
The development is the latest in the failed deferred-prosecution deal for Taylor, who raised more than $114,000 from Internet supporters after her teary-eyed mugshot went viral.
Well-wishers felt sorry for Taylor after reading that she'd been arrested in March for leaving two of her kids, ages 6 months and 2 years, in a hot car while on a job interview in Scottsdale.
But some of the donors are hoping for refunds now that Taylor has blown off the terms of her deal, resulting in the reinstatement of prosecution. Prosecutors had wanted her to put $60,000 of the found money in trust funds for her kids.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said last week her "games" undermined the statements she'd made to him about adhering to the deal. He gave her one more chance, agreeing that if she put just $40,000 in trusts for the kids by November 6, the deal would still be on.
"My patience is gone," he warned.
Taylor blew that deadline off, too. She gave interviews to the news media on Thursday, claiming she still had $72,000 of the money and declaring "I'm not some lazy bum sitting on the couch every day."
However, it's unclear how much donated money Taylor has left. The judge hasn't yet ruled on a prosecution motion that would require Taylor to reveal her bank statements.
As reported previously, Taylor allowed her financially irresponsible baby-daddy to move into her rental home, which she just furnished. Taylor claims she's been unable to find a job since March. But last week, community activist Jarrett Maupin, who helped negotiate the plea deal on behalf of Taylor, said on a local radio program that Taylor had failed to show up for job interviews he'd helped to arrange.
Taylor's flakiness left her lawyers frustrated, too.
Phoenix lawyer John Agra -- who had only been on the case for a few days -- said in a court motion that Taylor had "not fulfilled her financial obligations" to him.
On Monday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp granted Agra's motion to withdraw from the case.
Kemp also granted a similar motion for the lawyer who helped negotiate the failed deferred-prosecution deal, Benjamin Taylor, who's also a lawyer for the NAACP. His motion to withdraw stated that he had an "ethical conflict" with Shanesha Taylor and that "a breakdown in communication and trust has occurred between (them)."
In a statement to New Times, the attorney (who isn't related to his former client) said, "We continue to work hard for all our clients. We were happy to get Ms. Taylor custody of her children and negotiate a deal which allows her to have 2 felonies dismissed from her record."
Her trial's currently set for December 10, but that'll likely be delayed.
Judge Kemp noted in his Monday ruling that Taylor was found to be indigent at her initial appearance hearing, (which was before she raised the money.) But Kemp also suggested he may ask the Internet star to pitch in for her own defense at some point.
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(Note: This story originally had a reference to the deal as a "plea deal." The county attorney's office notified us that it can't be called a plea deal because Taylor never had to plead to anything when she was offered the deferred-prosecution deal.)
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