Couple accused of murder to get separate representation

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PROVO -- The man and woman accused in the murder of former BYU professor Kay Mortensen returned to court Tuesday.

Roger Mortensen is the prime suspect in the murder of his father, Kay, last November. Roger Mortensen's wife, Pamela Mortensen, is also charged with murder. During Tuesday's hearing, attorneys agreed the two defendants need their own attorneys to represent them.

Prosecutors are in the process of turning over what they say is "a mountain of evidence" in the case so the defense attorneys know what the state's case is against the Mortensens.

Roger Mortensen told the judge he is unemployed, has been on government assistance, and can't afford his own attorney anymore. The judge then ordered that he be appointed a public defender.

The attorney who has been representing the Mortensens intends on representing Pamela Mortensen, for the time being.

"Anytime there are co-defendants in a case, it's difficult, or awkward, for them to be represented by the same counsel," defense attorney Greg Skordas said. "I think in fairness to everyone, it's better to obtain separate counsel; so that's what we did today."

In the meantime, Roger Mortensen is facing a federal arrest warrant relating to guns found at the time of his arrest last month.

The arrests of Roger and Pamela Mortensen on July 29 came after an eight-month investigation into the murder of Kay Mortensen in his home in Payson Canyon.

Pamela Mortensen made a 911 call, in which the couple claimed they had been held hostage and later found Kay Mortensen dead.

The Mortensens plan to ask the judge to lower their bail from the $500,000 cash it's currently at. The judge will hear arguments on that issue on Aug. 30.


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