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Published: Wednesday, 6/27/2007

Wingate client has new defense lawyer

A man accused of murder has a new attorney while a motion to disqualify the man's current attorney is under consideration in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

Jeffrey Helmick filed an entry of appearance Monday, naming himself as Robert Wilson's attorney concerning the pending motion to disqualify Wilson's current attorney, Ronnie Wingate. Mr. Helmick will ensure that Wilson is represented while the issue is being considered.

The Lucas County Prosecutor's Office asked that Mr. Wingate be removed as Wilson's attorney, saying that he created a conflict of interest by representing both Wilson and taking on the role of adviser to the state's key witness, Wilson's wife, Janet.

The motion also accused Mr. Wingate of creating "an ethical dilemma for himself" and of making himself a witness to the case when he allegedly attempted to have Mrs. Wilson sign an affidavit saying that she made up allegations against her husband implicating him in the 1993 death of Brenda Navarre.

Mr. Helmick filed motions Monday asking for both additional time to respond to the allegations against Mr. Wingate and for an order that would require the prosecutor's office to provide "any and all evidence as it relates in any way to any of the allegations raised by the State of Ohio in its motion to disqualify defense counsel Wingate."

Included in the request are all interviews with Mrs. Wilson.

Wilson, 51, who is serving a 13-year sentence on unrelated convictions, was indicted in October for murder in the Dec. 1, 1993, attack on Ms. Navarre.

In May, Judge Charles Doneghy ordered defense attorneys and law enforcement officers not to contact Mrs. Wilson in response to a personal protection order filed by Mr. Wingate.

The motion accused Toledo police of causing Mrs. Wilson "mental distress" after she refused to testify for them by threatening her with arrest for murder.

Mrs. Wilson has since been arrested for obstruction of justice. She has been arraigned on the charge and will appear in court July 10.

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