Defense attorney withdraws from Supreme Court appeal for convicted murderer Bradley Morales

Kiara Kraus-Parr, who had been the appointed defense attorney for convicted murderer Bradley Morales, Minot, in his appeal to the Supreme Court, filed a motion to withdraw from the case on March 8.

Her motion came just a week before the State Supreme Court was scheduled to hear arguments in Morales’ appeal.

Morales, acting on his own, had then filed for a motion to continue his appeal before the Supreme Court but the Supreme Court denied his motion on Friday, court records show. Oral arguments in the appeal had been scheduled for Tuesday in Bismarck.

Morales is serving a 40-year prison sentence for the stabbing death of his ex-girlfriend in August 2017.

Kraus-Parr had previously argued in a written brief filed on behalf of Morales that the trial judge violated his constitutional right to a public trial by closing the courtroom on different occasions without first considering alternatives and by denying Morales the rigtht to represent himself.

Ward County State’s Attorney Roza Larson had responded that Morales’ rights were not violated. Larson wrote in her written argument that the judge did give formal consideration to all of the required factors before he closed the courtroom for one hearing. Judge Doug Mattson had been concerned that coverage of the case in the Minot Daily News might jeopardize Morales’ right to a fair trial. Mattson closed the courtroom on a few occasions during the trial, but Larson said those instances were “trivial” and didn’t violate Morales’ rights. She also wrote that Morales requested to represent himself once the trial was already underway and Morales’ behavior was unruly.

Morales has a history of being dissatisfied with his attorneys, all of whom have been appointed by the court. Steven Mottinger represented Morales at the murder trial when Morales asked to represent himself. Two previous lawyers had withdrawn from the case prior to the trial. Morales’ second defense attorney, Daniel Borgen, told Judge Mattson when he asked to withdraw in October 2017 that “there are some clients and some attorneys that mix as well as oil and water” and Morales would do better with another attorney.