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LOGAN, Utah (AP) -- The lead attorney for Cody Lynn Nielsen, who is charged in the slaying of a 15-year-old Hyrum girl in 2000, has withdrawn from the case in the wake of Nielsen filing a complaint against him.
David Perry's ability to defend Nielsen has been impaired, 1st District Judge Clint S. Judkins agreed Wednesday.
Nielsen filed a complaint against Perry two weeks ago with the Utah State Bar.
Perry said that Nielsen has complained about issues relating to a prior theft conviction. Perry also defended Nielsen in that case.
Nielsen, 31, who is serving a prison sentence for theft and unlawful sexual activity with a minor, also has claimed that he was coerced by Perry and co-counselor Shannon Demler into accepting a plea agreement in his capital murder case. Nielsen's guilty plea had avoided a potential death sentence. He withdrew his plea in April.
A hearing will be held next week to appoint new counsel to the case.
The court is considering several attorneys as possible replacements for Perry. The decision will depend on the availability of the attorney and compensation negotiations with the county indigent defense trial fund committee, which pays for legal services.
Nielsen is accused of kidnapping and sexually abusing Trisha Autry, then beating her to death, dismembering her body and burning and burying the pieces. The girl was missing for nearly a year before pieces of her remains were unearthed in May 2001 at the Predator Research Laboratory in Millville, where Nielsen had worked at the time of the slaying.
In addition to capital murder, charges against Nielsen include obstructing justice, abusing or desecrating a dead human body, forcible sexual abuse, aggravated kidnapping and kidnapping.
Nielsen's trial is scheduled to begin in January.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)