Man claims law prevents paying lawyer

Feb. 13, 2012 at 2:13 PM

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- A Boston-area man charged with killing his family claims he has no access to their assets, and has asked for a public defender, officials said.

While awaiting trial for the 2010 murder of his wife, two children and mother-in-law, Thomas Mortimer IV of Winchester, Mass. has told the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court he is unable to claim any assets from an IRA, joint checking account or late son's education savings, because the state's "Slayer Statute" forbids anyone charged with murder to benefit from a victims' property.

He will ask the court to declare him indigent and thus eligible for a publicly paid defense attorney, the Boston Herald reported Monday. Mortimer was previously offered a public defender if he would contribute $40,000 to his own defense.

A court filing from Attorney General Martha Coakley's office argued that the "interpretation advocated by Mortimer would mean any person without a current income is automatically indigent, regardless of his personal wealth."

The court is expected to address the issue in March.

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