Willie, a Birmingham-based defense lawyer, filed the motion to withdraw on Tuesday, noting his pro bono work since January, the trial’s delay in June and other professional and personal commitments.
If Willie is relieved from the case, he will be the fifth attorney to leave Updyke since the case began in February 2011.
“The uncertainty of the timing of a new trial and the potential costs which would accrue, regardless of the venue chosen, make it impossible to adequately plan and provide adequate representation of the defendant,” Willie wrote.
The next court date for the case is set for Sept. 27, and is currently scheduled for the October criminal term in Lee County.
In his motion, Willie argues lead defense attorney Everett W. Wess would be able to provide adequate representation for Updyke.
Wess renewed the argument of moving the trial’s location outside of Lee County nearly a week ago.
“It appears this case permeates multiple aspects of potential juror’s lives in Lee County Alabama and an impartial jury cannot be impaneled,” Wess said.
Updyke confessed to Plainsman reporter Andrew Yawn in June, with Yawn receiving a gag order shortly after.
“Did I do it? Yes,” Updyke told Yawn outside the elevator on the second floor of the Lee County Justice Center in June.
Updyke has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect and faces multiple counts of first-degree criminal mischief, desecration of a venerated object and unlawful damage of a crop facility related to the alleged attack.
Wess renewed his movement for the trial’s location to be changed to outside of Lee County, offering Jefferson, Madison or Mobile counties as alternatives. Wess echoes Willie's belief that Updyke cannot receive a fair trial in Lee County, and the judge agreed to renew consideration of the argument for change of venue after halting jury selection in June because of the Plainsman's story.