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Attorney attempts to have district attorneys office removed from Kauffman case
DeFilippo Georgia
Georgia DeFilippo

The attorney representing Georgia DeFilippo, the wife of defense attorney Frank Carson, has filed a motion in Stanislaus County Superior Court seeking to have the district attorney’s office removed from the case against his client and seven others arrested for the murder of Turlock resident Korey Kauffman.

Defense attorney Tim Pori filed the motion to have the district attorney’s office recused from the case on Tuesday, along with a 281-page declaration in support of it. The motion claims the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s office is carrying a vendetta against Carson because he has won several high profile cases and these losses have clouded the office’s approach to seeking justice.

There is a serious conflict of interest between the Office of the District Attorney and Ms. DeFilippo, where the district attorney’s personal entanglement with her husband, prominent local attorney Frank Carson, makes it impossible that she will be treated fairly at any stage of this proceeding by any prosecutor employed by that Office,” Pori wrote in his motion. “The arrest of Ms. DeFilippo is wholly unsupported by probable cause, and appears motivated by rancor toward Mr. Carson. Ms DeFilippo is not the first individual targeted for her association with Mr. Carson, in what appears to be a concerted effort to discredit him and neutralize his presence in the community, by any means necessary.”

Carson, DeFilippo, former California Highway Patrol officer Walter Wells, Pop N’ Cork owners Baljit and Daljit Athwal and Robert Lee Woody all stand accused of first-degree murder for the death of Kauffman on March 31, 2012. They are accused of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of lying in wait and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Carson is also facing a charge of perjury.

Additionally, the district attorney’s office has arrested and charged Carson’s stepdaughter Christina DeFilippo and CHP Officers Eduardo Quintanar and Scott McFarlane, on charges of conspiracy and being accessories in the case. The three have been out on bail since being arrested on Aug. 14.

DeFilippo and Wells were granted bail of $10 million each after a lengthy hearing Tuesday, but as of Thursday both remain in custody.

Investigators have stated Kauffman was last seen heading to a property in the 800 block of Ninth Street in Turlock, which they believe was Carson’s. District Attorney Investigator Steven Jacobson testified at the bail review hearing that Woody told him Kauffman was beat by the Athwal brothers before being shot in the back. His body was then buried in a field at the Pop N’ Cork store and remained there for 27 days before it was removed and left in the Stanislaus National Forest.

In his recusal motion, Pori argues that nothing in the 326-page affidavit points to his client committing any crime, let alone murder. During Tuesday’s bail hearing Pori argued there was no evidence that his client had made any direct threats to anyone, or that she even knew who Kauffman was prior to his disappearance. He also pointed out that Woody, who is being tried separately and is cooperating with investigators, has thus far made no mention of his client.

Deputy District Attorney Marlisa Ferreira, who is prosecuting the case for the district attorney’s office, said Tuesday in court that DeFilippo was part of the planning and preparation to catch someone on their property. Ferreira said DeFilippo was present when some of the threats were made and suggested violence as a solution to a problem with a neighbor.

The suggestion of violence Ferreira referenced comes from a recorded conversation detailed in the Ramey warrant affidavit between DeFilippo and her daughter, in which the daughter said she was bothered by the neighbors mowing their lawn and DeFilippo asked her daughter if she should “come and shoot them.” The investigators said it was relevant because it showed the “first response to problems at the property involved at least the threat of violence.”

Pori writes in his motion that there is a “long history on enmity between Mr. Carson and the District Attorney, extending also to Chief Deputy District Attorney David Harris and District Attorney Investigators, including Steven Jacobson and Kirk Bunch.”

Both Bunch and Jacobson are part of the multi-agency task force investigating Kauffman’s murder. Harris was also a part of the task force until recently, when Ferreira was assigned to the case.

Pori stated that Carson has filed a civil lawsuit against Jacobson and has made accusations of jury tampering against Jacobson and Harris. Jacobson, during Tuesday’s bail hearing, described his relationship with Carson as “adversarial.”

Pori also points to Carson’s repeated public statements criticizing the district attorney’s office as another reason why the department would not be able to prosecute the case in an “evenhanded manner.”

Pori’s motion is expected to be taken up in court on Sept. 14, at which point the prosecution can make their argument for remaining on the case.