Northwood homicide suspect asks for new lawyer

Published 8:10 pm Monday, January 6, 2014

NORTHWOOD — The Northwood man accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death in August went before a Worth County District Court judge a second time on Monday to ask for a new lawyer.

Tyrone Washington Jr., 39, claimed his public defender, Susan Flander, was handling his case poorly and that because of this he will not get a fair trial.

“I do not want her representing me. Period,” Washington said.

Tyrone Washington Jr.

Tyrone Washington Jr.

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Washington faces a charge of first-degree murder in the Aug. 5 death of Justina Marie Smith, 30, in Swensrud Park. In October, Washington made the same motion, but Worth County Judge Colleen Weiland denied the request, saying she did not see anything that would cause her concern.

On Monday, Weiland said she would reconsider the issue because “clearly there’s a continuing problem.”

Washington, who has been in custody since the day of the stabbing, said he has had additional problems since he appeared before Weiland in October, and he feels Flander is not doing what she is required to do as his lawyer. He said he would rather take his chances with a less-experienced lawyer, or even represent himself, than continue with Flander.

“It’s not right,” Washington said. “I have rights.”

Flander said she has been frustrated with the information about the case that the Iowa Attorney General’s Office has turned over to the defense team, but said she has been treating Washington as she would any other client.

“As with every client sometimes what I have to tell them is not what they want to hear,” she said.

She said she did not think her and Washington’s strategies for the case were so different that they couldn’t work together.

Weiland said she had to think about whether there was a personality conflict between Flander and Washington, whether Washington was being unreasonable or whether Flander was not acting with the competency she was known to use in other cases.

Weiland said while Washington is entitled to a competent public defender, he is not entitled to the defender of his choice who can spend all day, every day, on just his case.

She said she would consider the motion overnight Monday.

Weiland in November ordered the case be moved to Fort Dodge, Iowa, because of pretrial publicity.

The trial is slated to begin June 2.