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Former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez takes precedence over El Paso County murder trial

March 17, 2017 Updated: March 18, 2017 at 7:04 am
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A man who hired Casey Anthony's lead attorney to represent him in an El Paso County murder case found himself upstaged Friday by a higher profile client.

Miami attorney Jose Baez, whose career took off after Anthony's 2011 acquittal on charges of killing her 4-year-old daughter, was unable to appear in person in 4th Judicial District Court on behalf of James Woo because of a prior obligation - he's in the middle of representing former NFL player Aaron Hernandez in a double murder trial in Boston.

Baez appeared by phone instead, engaging in a time-honored practice of asking a judge for more time to prepare.

Fourth Judicial District Judge Jann P. DuBois agreed to postpone Woo's trial from May to Aug. 14 given the recent change in Woo's legal representation.

Prosecutors said in court the move was expected and did not object to the postponement.

Woo, who is accused of killing an ex-mistress and stashing her body in an El Paso County storage unit, fired his court-appointed public defenders earlier this year after reports of continuing friction.

The hiring of Baez was announced at a Feb. 24 hearing, nearly a year after his arrest on the same day Julie Tureson's gunshot-riddled body was found in a self-storage unit east of Colorado Springs.

El Paso County sheriff's investigators tracked Woo to the Seattle airport, where they say he was awaiting a flight toHong Kong.

Baez said he should be free to appear in person for Woo's next court appearance on July 14, when pretrial motions are scheduled to be heard.

Hernandez's trial is expected to wrap up by mid-April, at which time Baez said he will be free to shift his focus to the allegations against Woo.

Judge DuBois reminded Baez of a prior order limiting what attorneys may say to the media about the Woo case - a standard procedure in high-profile cases here.

Private attorneys in Colorado Springs suggested Woo, 39, of San Francisco, likely had to reach deep to hire Baez, whose fee could be in the high six figures, they said.

Out-of-state attorneys can practice in Colorado only if they partner with a member of the state bar. That attorney will be Richard Bednarski of Colorado Springs.

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