Former Deblase attorney to be paid thousands in tax dollars

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – A court appointed defense attorney is revealing how many state tax dollars he is expected to receive for preparing a high profile capitol murder case he will not take to court.

Jim Sears, along with Ashley Cameron, were appointed to the capital murder trial of John Deblase. After eight continuances and nearly three years, the attorneys dropped the case – a week before trial scheduled for March 24.

Sears said the defense team withdrew from the case because of comments the presiding judge made in reference to the teams performance. He said the judge’s comments were on the record and could have resulted in an appeal later down the line.

Sears said state law requires court appointed attorneys to be paid $70 an hour for their services. His regular rate is $300 an hour.

Sears estimated he will be paid about $35,000 for his work on the Deblase case.

Cameron is not talking to the media, citing a court ordered gag order.

District Attorney Ashley Rich said the Deblase case has cost a “tremendous” amount of money.

“(It’s an) $8,500 expense to the tax payers just for the jurors alone in this setting,” said Rich.

Rich said the prosecution has spent countless hours on the case.

“Hundreds of hours have been expended for this trial setting to get this case to trial and so now that’s wasted time we could have been spending on other cases,” said Rich.

Deblase and his common law wife Heather Keaton are accused of gagging, starving and poisoning his two children, Natalie and Jonathan Deblase, in 2010.

Investigators in Mississippi found Jonathan’s body buried near Vancleave. The remains of 5-year-old Natalie were found in the woods near Citronelle.

The court has appointed Art Powell and Glen Davidson as Deblase’s attorneys. A new trial date has been set for October 14.

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