ST. JOHNSBURY -- A judge denied separate requests Tuesday for new lawyers for a couple charged with luring a St. Johnsbury teacher from her home last year and sexually assaulting and killing her before dumping her body in the Connecticut River.
Patricia and Allen Prue both said they wanted new lawyers during separate hearings in Vermont Superior Court.
"My lawyer doesn’t seem to have a defense for me," Patricia Prue told Judge Mary Miles Teachout.
Her lawyer, Marc Eagle, also requested to be removed from the case, saying he and Prue have been at odds over where the case is headed, but he did not provide details.
In the second hearing, Allen Prue told the judge that he felt his attorney, Dan Maguire, was trying to use his wife against him and failed to keep him informed about the case.
Maguire did not ask to be removed from the case. "I think I can represent him ethically under my responsibilities ... and competently," said Maguire, who asked that his client’s trial be moved out of St. Johnsbury.
Teachout did not rule on the request for a change of venue.
She said there wasn’t an irretrievable breakdown between Patricia Prue and Eagle. She told Prue that lawyers are still gathering evidence and the fact that there is no defense is not unusual at this time. She also told both Prues they are not entitled to a harmonious relationship with their lawyers, only to effective attorneys who can present an appropriate defense.
The Prues are charged with luring Melissa Jenkins from her Danville home in March 2012 with a ruse about a broken down car and then strangling her and dumping her body in the Connecticut River. Jenkins’ vehicle was found idling on a dirt road with her 2-year-old son inside. Patricia Prue has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder; Allen Prue has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.
Eagle told a judge he was finished with his depositions and would be prepared for an August trial. The state is still waiting for results of testing on a computer hard drive and hair samples. Caledonia County State’s Attorney Lisa Warren told the court that Maguire or his investigator could be a potential witness regarding one of the pieces of evidence.
Teachout said it was too soon for the court to act on something that might happen later.
Eric Berry, who is married to Jenkins’ cousin and attended the hearing, said the Prues are trying to delay the case.
"It sounds like the evidence is pretty cut and dry," he said. "I just don’t see anything changing in this case. They’re trying to do everything they can, both of them, to delay the case. Frankly I’m pretty happy here with the ruling this morning."
Patricia Prue could go on trial late this summer. Her husband is expected to go on trial early next year.
Berry noted that seeing the Prues go to trial would not bring Jenkins back.
"I don’t know if there ever is going to be true closure in this because there’s a little boy that we all care about," he said. "And those people obviously don’t. They’re just heathens."