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Kopp Awaits Decision from Federal Court on New Lawyer

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – There's still no decision from U.S. Magistrate Hugh Scott on James Kopp's request for a new attorney. The accused killer of Dr. Barnett Slepian wants Bruce Barket, a Long Island lawyer, to represent him in federal court proceedings.

Kopp says he understands the possible conflict of interest if attorney Barket represents him. Barket is also defending Kopp's friend, Loretta Marra. Marra and husband, Dennis Malvasi, are charged with helping Kopp elude police.

Kopp says he wants Barket because they share "philosophical sympathies," referring to their anti-abortion views. Afterwards, Barket was asked about that.

"The most significant issue in this case is abortion," Barket said. "If you're in favor of abortion or you're against abortion, that will be the defining issue in the case."

Kopp says if Barket is not allowed to defend him, he might represent himself. U.S. Assistant Attorney Kathleen Meltretter says she expects Judge Scott to issue a written decision.

Barket is allowed to represent Kopp at his state murder trial. Kopp was forced to seek a new lawyer because defense attorney Paul Cambria asked to be removed. There's speculation Cambria did not want the trials turned a debate on abortion, but Cambria continues his silence on that question.

"I think as this case unfolds it will be fairly apparent to everyone as to why I wanted to be revealed of my defense duties," Cambria said.

While addressing the court Tuesday, the judge asked Kopp about his education. Kopp says he has a master's degree in Embryology.

Local charges against Marra and Mavlasi were recently dismissed, however, they now face a single count of conspiracy and will be transported to New York City to face the charge.