Lawrence gets former lawyer for murder trial - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Lawrence gets former lawyer for murder trial

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(01/08/14) - Jury selection has started again in Saginaw for an ex-fugitive who was on the run for more than a year.

Michael Lawrence is accused of killing 6-year-old Layla Jones in August 2012 in a drive-by shooting.

A trial for Lawrence and a co-defendant began last month, but was adjourned after the co-defendant's attorney fell ill.

Before jury selection began, Lawrence's own attorney withdrew from the case. After the first adjournment, Lawrence got a new attorney. Wednesday, that new attorney asked for another adjournment.

Edwin Johnson was hired by Michael Lawrence on Dec. 17. During a motion hearing before jury selection started Wednesday, Johnson said he hasn't had enough time to prepare for a trial.

"I'm simply not ready for trial," he said. "It would be malpractice for me to try and represent this young man at this time."

Johnson offered to withdraw from the case and allow Lawrence's previous attorney, William White, to take over - an offer Circuit Court Judge Darnell Jackson did not refuse.

"We'll talk a recess and call Mr. White and we'll continue after that," Jackson said.

White agreed to go back on the case, and Johnson agreed to help in the defense of Lawrence. He is one of four men accused of being in a car where the gunshots that killed Layla Jones came from.

In addition to Lawrence, there's Levonne Greer, who has already been convicted and is serving a life sentence, another man charged as an accessory who has testified that Lawrence and Greer fired those shots, and co-defendant Rico Saldana, the alleged driver of the car.

"A lot of people think this is a pretty straightforward case, but it's not," Johnson said.

Johnson says Lawrence may have committed a cowardly act, but he did not commit murder.

"He says he was in the car, but he didn't shoot, and he didn't know there was going to be shooting," he said.

He also says it's not fair to rush Lawrence to trial, since he has only been in custody for about four months following his capture in Las Vegas.

"In a capital case, and in a high-profile case like this, and particularly since he has been demonized, as you can understand," he said.

Jury selection will continue Thursday.

Lawrence also faces a separate murder trial next month in the death of his former girlfriend, Angelica Oliveraz.

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