Darren Mack fires attorneys, plans to withdraw guilty pleas

RENO " Darren Mack, who unexpectedly agreed to plead guilty to the stabbing death of his wife and the sniper-style shooting of a Reno judge, has fired his defense team and plans to file a motion to withdraw his guilty pleas to murder and attempted murder charges.

Mack's brother, Landon Mack, said that his brother had filed forms on Thursday to replace his lawyers with his new attorney, William Routsis of Reno.

"Routsis has been retained to correct a huge manifestation of injustice and to withdraw the pleas," Landon Mack said today.

In a surprise move, Mack interrupted his murder trial on Nov. 5, just as his lawyers were about to present the defense case, and agreed to plead guilty to first-degree murder of his estranged wife, Charla.

She was found stabbed to death in the garage of his town house on June 12, 2006.

Mack also entered a conditional guilty plea on the attempted murder charge in the shooting of their divorce judge, Chuck Weller, that same day.

Under the plea, Mack said he did not intend to kill the judge but acknowledged that the prosecution had enough evidence to convict him.

Mack faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years on the murder charge.

Special prosecutor Christopher Lalli said Mack likely would be unsuccessful if he attempted to reverse his pleas, but was not surprised by the change of heart.

"Whenever anybody signs up for a sentence of this magnitude, it's not uncommon to have buyer's remorse," he said.

"Unless he can show that the plans were not knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently entered, it won't be accepted."

Judge Douglas Herndon had scheduled sentencing to begin Jan. 17 in Las Vegas, where he moved the trial after determining an impartial jury could not be found in Washoe County. Lalli and Robert Daskas of the Clark County district attorney's office were assigned to the case after Washoe County District Attorney Richard Gammick removed himself because of his long association with Mack's family.

Scott Freeman, one of Mack's trial lawyers, was out of town at a convention and unavailable to comment, his office said. Calls to Chesnoff on Friday were not immediately returned.


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