Murder suspect Morales is unhappy with third defense attorney

Accused murderer Bradley Joe Morales is now unhappy with his third defense attorney.

Morales, 27, pleaded not guilty at a hearing last week to the stabbing death of his ex-girlfriend, Sharmaine Leake, 25, in August 2017. He was represented at the hearing by Steven Mottinger.

But, in a letter to Judge Doug Mattson written Tuesday, Morales complains that Mottinger only visited him once in the past three months and Mottinger didn’t go over discovery evidence turned over by the state to the defense with Morales.

“My attorney Steve Mottinger didn’t do anything we talked about,” Morales wrote. “Some of the questions he asked (were) incriminating in regards to my behalf. I know by my body language you could tell I was unhappy about being there. That’s because Mr. Mottinger was supposed to come see me before the hearing. I am not moving through this process intelligently. I didn’t even know what was going on at the prelim. I feel blind-sided.”

Morales told Mattson he wants a new attorney.

Mattson previously allowed Morales’ first attorney, Raissa Carpenter, to withdraw for unspecified reasons. In November 2017, Morales’ second appointed defense attorney, Daniel Borgen, was allowed to withdraw. Borgen told Mattson “that there are some clients and some attorneys that mix as well as oil and water” and he thought Morales would be better served with another attorney. Morales had also been displeased that Borgen couldn’t see him right away.

Mattson had advised Morales last fall that he is entitled to a defense attorney appointed by the state, but will not necessarily be permitted to choose his own appointed defense attorney.

Morales is accused of stabbing Leake in the neck during an apparent domestic altercation on Aug. 16, 2017, at a southeast Minot residence. Their three children were present in the home at the time. Morales is charged with Class AA felony murder and could face up to life in prison without parole.

He had previously been convicted of assaulting Leake.

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