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Tuesday, December 18 , 2018, 6:29 am | Fair 44º


Suspect in Arroyo Burro Beach Death Scheduled for Arraignment

A defense attorney is expected to be selected Tuesday for Adrian Robles

Adrian Robles, the 20-year-old man accused in the slashing death of Robert Burke Simpson at Arroyo Burro Beach on April 15, is scheduled to appear in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Tuesday morning for his arraignment.

Adrian Robles
Adrian Robles

The hearing had been continued because of confusion over who will represent him.

Although Robles is eligible for legal representation from the Public Defender’s Office, one of his co-defendants in the case — Brittany Weiler, 19, and a 17-year-old female have been charged as accessories in the murder — was once represented by the office, creating a conflict of interest if it were to defend Robles.

An attorney will not be formally chosen until Tuesday’s hearing, but Steve Balash, who is associated with neither the Public Defender’s Office nor Conflict Defense Associates — the contract company selected to take the case — said he will speak on Robles’ behalf.

Balash said that although the court is obligated to provide Robles with an attorney, there weren’t enough available with the necessary experience within either of those offices. The only other option was to hire a private practice attorney. Balash said the hourly rate he can be paid in such a case is less than what an attorney in private practice typically makes, but the rate is set by the Superior Court.

“Unfortunately, there have been a lot of murders in good ol’ Santa Barbara, and you have to have a certain amount of experience to represent a case like that,” Balash said. “I don’t carry a very heavy caseload, I’m available to do this one and these cases are very interesting.”

“This happens quite frequently. Any time there is more than a single defendant in a case, there is a potential for a conflict of interest.” said Assistant Public Defender Raimondo Montes de Oca, explaining even though his office has about a dozen attorneys on its staff, they all work for one office and, consequently, are considered a single entity.

When the Public Defender’s Office can’t represent a case, it has a contract with Criminal Defense Associates, a private firm that can also handle a limited number of cases each year. However, the CDA has only a handful of attorneys qualified to handle capital cases, and because James Crowder — a CDA attorney who was thought likely to represent Robles — is currently in the midst of another murder trial, it was necessary to find a qualified private attorney.

Noozhawk staff writer Ben Preston can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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