Friday, April 13, 2007

Lionel Tate Attorneys Say Previous Lawyer Wasn't Competent

Lionel Tate Attorneys Say Previous Lawyer Wasn't Competent

POSTED: 7:32 am EDT April 13, 2007

Attorneys for convicted child killer Lionel Tate said Thursday they have filed a motion to have his 30-year sentence vacated on the grounds that one of his former attorneys was incompetent.

The former attorney, Ellis Rubin, was one of South Florida's best-known lawyers prior to his death in December 2006 after a long battle with cancer.

The motion was filed in the 4th District Court of Appeals earlier this week, Tate's attorney Jim Lewis said. Tate, 20, is scheduled to start trial Monday for on charges that he robbed a pizza delivery man.

Lewis said it's troubling that Rubin allowed Tate to refuse a plea deal which would have given him a 30-year total sentence for both charges -- robbery and gun possession. But a conviction on the robbery charges could add a life sentence to his existing sentence. "I think that is very problematic and I wish Ellis Rubin was here and I could talk to him and basically ask what was he thinking," Lewis said.

Tate, who is the youngest person in modern U.S. history to receive a life sentence for his murder conviction in the 1999 beating death of Tiffany Eunick, is already serving a 30-year sentence for violating his probation by possessing a gun after he was convicted of murdering the 6-year-old girl.

Rubin's former partner, Robert Barrar, said Tate wouldn't be in the position he's in had he listened to Rubin's advice. "Had he followed Mr. Rubin's advice, he would have received much less time as he currently has as well as he would not be facing a potential additional life sentence," Barrar said.

"Ellis was anything but incompetent. He did a great job for that kid. Unfortunately that young man, as well as his supporters, weren't smart enough to realize what a good job Mr. Rubin had done."

Tate's attorneys also filed a change of venue motion, saying it would be difficult to find a jury who hadn't heard about the troubled young man because of the extensive media coverage.

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