Attorney in murder trial says county won't pay up - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Attorney in murder trial says county won't pay up

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PASCO, Wash.- A public defender says he plans to sue Franklin County for not getting paid for representing a man who stood trial for murder.

Moe Spencer served as co-counsel for Jose Garcia Morales. He joined the murder case in February 2011 after voters elected then-public defender Shawn Sant to county prosecutor.

On the day the jury began deliberating, after two weeks of testimony, Spencer says the public defender's office told him he wasn't going to get paid.

Spencer says he's upset and feels slighted by the county.

"I never told anyone that I would be doing this trial for free. My understanding is that I would submit my hours and would get paid for my hours just like everyone else does."

Initially, Spencer says, there was talk that he didn't have enough experience to be on a murder trial, but after the public defender's office reviewed his background and resume, he says he was told he would be paid.

Spencer says the county owes him $16,000 for his work on the Morales case.

Spencer says before pursuing a lawsuit he would be required to enter mediations to try to settle the dispute.

County representatives haven't yet responded to Spencer's claim.

The jury convicted Morales, who is now serving a 75 year prison sentence.

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