rectorPhoenix attorney Gerald Gavin is the new lead defense lawyer representing a Bullhead City man who is facing a possible death sentence if convicted in a high profile child homicide case. Mohave County Indigent Defense Administrator Blake Schritter secured Gavin’s services March 6, a day after lead counsel Harry Moore was allowed to exit the defense of Justin Rector, 26.  Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen approved Moore’s motion to withdraw based on a conflict of interest. Moore is the Mohave County Public Defender and he argued a conflict exists because his office previously represented Tania Grogan and Ralph Folster, the mother and step-father of murder victim Isabella “Bella” Grogan-Cannella.   “This raises a situation of successive representation, hampering the ability of the Public Defender’s office to cross examine each of those witnesses, and to comply with the ethical duties of loyalty to prior clients,” Moore’s motion argued. It said neither the state nor Rector objected to his exit and the Judge approved Moore’s withdrawal.   Rector faces first degree murder and other charges for the asphyxiation death and burial of Bella early last September. Rector wanted to represent himself and plead guilty late last year, but he changed his mind and kept Moore on board.    Telephone conversations recorded at the Mohave County jail in Kingman that were released to the media this week featured Rector telling his father and a woman named Ashley that he needed to “man up”, take responsibility for his actions and accept his punishment.”    Gavin acknowledged the prejudicial publicity Friday, while confirming he will defend Rector through a contract paying him $100 per hour.    “I have read recent media accounts which will make getting a fair trial more difficult,” Gavin said. “ I don’t want to say anything further at this point. I would ask everyone to remember, in this country, a person is innocent until the government proves otherwise.”    Gavin long ago worked six years for the Mohave County Public Defender’s Office. He handled a capital case involving Roger Murray, who remains on death row for a double homicide committed along U.S. 93 about 15 miles north of Kingman.    Rector is held without bond in the county jail in Kingman where he is segregated from the general population. His trial is not expected to take place until sometime in 2016.

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