Death penalty case unfair, attorney for accused cop killer says, with state law limiting his pay | Crime News

The state’s pursuit of the death penalty against a man accused of killing a Tulsa police officer should be dropped due to Oklahoma’s “unconstitutional” compensation for counsel appointed to defend indigent clients, an attorney said in a recent court filing.

Kevin Adams reasoned that he could make more money delivering pizzas than he will defending his client, David Ware, in the capital case, which he argued creates a conflict of interest that deprives Ware of his right to a fair trial.

Adams moved to dismiss the state’s pursuit of the death penalty against Ware on the grounds that Oklahoma’s statutory scheme for the compensation of appointed death-penalty counsel is “so completely and totally inadequate” that it is a structural error, permeating every aspect of his defense.

Ware is accused of shooting two Tulsa police officers during a traffic stop near 21st Street and Memorial Drive in June 2020. Sgt. Craig Johnson, 45, died of his injuries, and Officer Aurash Zarkeshan, then 26, recovered from critical injures after about four months of rehabilitation.

Ware, then 32, is charged with first-degree murder and shooting with intent to kill.

A judge appointed Adams as counsel for Ware after the Tulsa County Public Defender’s Office cited a conflict of interest. Adams, a state and federal defense attorney with over 20 years of experience, said he accepted the case upon receiving a call from a judge and after meeting Ware.

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