In a surprise move, accused wife killer Quincy Norton on Thursday attempted to fire his lawyer and remove the judge from his case just before opening statements.
Both motions, which were denied, are the latest in a case already fraught with twists and turns. Prosecutors say Norton’s move was a delay tactic that is part of a larger strategy hatched by a handful of accused killers.
“I believe this to be manipulative and an attempt to disrupt the system,” protested Deputy District Attorney Al Giannini during Thurday’s pretrial motions.
While a gag order prevented him from talking about the Norton case, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said that throughout February and March, five high-profile murder defendants, including Norton, withdrew their previous waiving of their rights to speedy trials.
Refusing to waive time is extremely unusual in murder cases. Wagstaffe speculated that the defendants, who share space in the maximum security area of the county jail, conspired to ensure their trial dates overlapped in the hopes that the cases against them would be hastily prepared or assigned to less experienced prosecutors.
The trend began Feb. 27 with Domingo Samuel Naranjo, charged with a 2006 Redwood City fatal shooting, pulling his time waiver. The next day, Norton followed suit. The day after that, Charles Schuttloffel, accused of killing his two young sons in 2004, did the same.
On March 10, Reynaldo Maldanado — charged with a Daly City fatal stabbing in 2001 — also exercised his right. On March 14, two murder defendants chose to exercise their rights: Faustino Ayala, implicated in a gang killing, and Joseph Cua, accused of a 2006 murder in Millbrae.
In Norton’s case, Judge Craig Parsons granted a victory on Thusday for defense attorney Patricia Fox, who will now be able to present prosecutors’ allegedly sluggish timing in obtaining critical DNA evidence that could exonerate her client.
Two weeks ago, a routine saliva swab of Norton’s mistress revealed that her DNA was present on the handle of the knife used to kill Norton’s wife, Tamika Mack-Norton, in 2006.