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Judge Grants Anthony Palma’s Request For A Public Defender

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Palma is accused of first-degree murder in the death and disappearance of 8-year-old Kirsten Hatfield. Palma is accused of first-degree murder in the death and disappearance of 8-year-old Kirsten Hatfield.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

An Oklahoma County judge ruled accused child killer Anthony Palma will be allowed to terminate his private attorney.

Palma is accused of kidnapping and killing 8-year-old Kirsten Hatfield, who lived two doors down from his Midwest City home back in 1997.

Now the high-profile murder case will be in the hands of the public defender's office, which already has more than 80 first-degree murder cases assigned to their small team.

That became a major point of contention during Palma's hearing before the judge.

Though Palma is the one who requested for the public defender's office to represent him, Chief Public Defender Bob Ravitz said there is no way his office can be ready for the March trial date that has been set in this case.

Ravitz stated they have more than 3,000 pages of evidence to go over and several witnesses they need to talk to first.

The judge ruled that he still wants to see evidence that Palma is not able to pay for a private attorney to represent him, but he did accept Palma's motion to have his attorney Irven Box terminated from the case. 

On Monday, the judge had asked for Palma and his current attorney to show him bank records to prove he had no way to pay for his own legal defense.  But Wednesday afternoon, Box told News 9 Palma's own wife refused to hand over the records, saying the court will have to subpoena them instead.

Box said Palma can't afford to pay him anymore, since all the money he gets from his $1,500 a month retirement goes to support his teenage daughter, who is currently still living in Palma's Midwest City home. 

Thursday, the judge was advised the power had been shut off at the home and that the daughter had gone to live with her maternal grandmother.

Though Palma told the judge he could not afford to pay Box, he also said "we don't see eye to eye on this case".

Despite that, Box said there is no bad blood between them.

"I just wished him the best," said Irven Box, who has represented Palma since he was arrested. "I think the bottom line in this case is the judge allowed the public defender to get in so he could be adequately defended because there is a lot of money to be spent on investigation DNA evidence. This case stands or falls on DNA evidence. There are no eye witnesses, so this is going to be a case that is going to be made on the scientific evidence. And fortunately, he'll be able to get that from the public defender's office and with public funds."

The next status conference hearing for Palma's case is set for January 19. And that is when we may learn if the trial will be reset for a later date.

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