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Suspect in two Fargo murders gets fourth attorney; trial set for May 22

FARGO - A Fargo man charged with two murders has a new attorney-his fourth-but he's not getting a new trial date, at least not yet.Ashley Hunter is scheduled to stand trial May 22 in Cass County District Court for the murders of Clarence Flowers ...

Ashley Hunter appears in District Court on Wednesday, Mach 8, 2017, Fargo, with his new attorney, Sam Gereszek, left, as Kevin McCabe, right, is excused from the case. Hunter is accused of the murder of two people in June 2015.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Ashley Hunter appears in Cass County District Court on Wednesday, Mach 8 with his new attorney, Sam Gereszek, left, as Kevin McCabe, right, is excused from the case. Hunter is accused of the murder of two people in June 2015. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO - A Fargo man charged with two murders has a new attorney-his fourth-but he's not getting a new trial date, at least not yet.

Ashley Hunter is scheduled to stand trial May 22 in Cass County District Court for the murders of Clarence Flowers and Sam Traut in June 2015.

Hunter's attorney, Kevin McCabe, an employee of the North Dakota Public Defender's Office in Dickinson, recently filed a motion asking for permission to withdraw from the case, stating in court documents that he has had difficulty communicating with his client via phone, and the distance factor has hampered his ability to question witnesses.

McCabe said he was also working to prepare for other major trials that will be coming up soon in courts across North Dakota.

McCabe took over the case from defense attorney Nick Thornton, who withdrew from the case after it became apparent he had a conflict of interest.

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Before that, Thornton took over the case from defense attorney Steven Mottinger after Hunter told the court he didn't feel he could get along with Mottinger.

At a hearing on Wednesday, March 8, Judge Norman Anderson granted McCabe's request to withdraw from the case, leaving Hunter with a new lawyer to defend him, Sam Gereszek.

Anderson noted that Hunter was charged in June 2015 and he had concerns about how long the trial has been delayed. Anderson also made it clear he expected both sides to be ready for trial by May 22.

Hunter remains in the Cass County Jail charged with two counts of murder and one count of arson.

Authorities say Hunter killed Flowers on June 22, 2015, following a dispute over drugs at Flowers' apartment in Fargo.

Several hours later, Hunter knocked on the door of Traut, a Bible study leader whom Hunter had never met, and asked for a glass of water, court documents state.

Court documents state Hunter told investigators he was worried Traut had recognized him from media coverage of Flowers' murder and that he was calling police.

Hunter told authorities that when Traut returned with the water, he began striking him with a hammer until Traut stopped fighting back. Hunter then set fire to Traut's apartment to cover up the killing, documents state.

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Hunter has made public statements that he is not guilty of killing the two men.

He told Judge Anderson Wednesday that he agreed to the latest change in attorneys, but added he was concerned "whether we're going to be prepared (for trial)."

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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