(WSPA) – The trial for a man accused of murdering a Mills River man in 2017 has been delayed after his lawyer was removed from the case.
According to a news release from District Attorney Greg Newman, Superior Court Judge Robert Bell removed Public Defender Paul Welch as the lead counsel for Phillip Michael Stroupe.
Stroupe is accused of murdering Thomas Bryson of Mills River in July 2017.
According to the release, Stroupe’s trial was scheduled to start in May, but will be delayed for Stroupe’s new lawyer, Mark Melrose, of Waynesville, NC, to have adequate time to prepare.
Stroupe’s co-counsel is Forest City attorney Sarah Ziomek, who was appointed in 2017 to assist in representing Stroupe.
A new trial date has not yet been set.
“Naturally, we are disappointed that we cannot proceed to trial in May,” Newman said. “We have already issued witness subpoenas and several people have made travel arrangements for the month of May. The reason for this latest development cannot be made known publicly, but the new lead trial counsel is very experienced and I look forward to working with him in the case.”
“I foresee a delay of several more months, but sometimes these things cannot be avoided. The Judge has to do everything within his power to preserve the integrity of the trial process. I trust the Judge’s decision on this issue and we will be ready to present our evidence whenever the defense team is ready to proceed,” Newman said.