FLORENCE — Defense attorneys representing a Maricopa woman accused of murdering a young child are complaining they don’t have enough time to present their case. Pinal County Superior Court Judge Delia Neal was not moved by their pleas Wednesday.
Shawn Main, 48, is facing the death penalty for the alleged killing of 3-year-old Tiana Capps on Nov. 19, 2015. Main is not Tiana’s mother, but the child was in her care at the time of death.
Chet Lockwood, co-counsel for Main, pleaded to Neal, in animated fashion, to grant a defense motion to stay proceedings until more records could be gathered to present to expert witnesses.
Main was present Wednesday, rolled into the courtroom in a wheelchair for the hearing.
Lockwood described the case as “difficult,” and he referenced another child death case he worked on that took more than six years to go to trial.
The state objected to the motion to stay, saying the defense had not met its burden to prove it deserved a stay.
“There is no irreparable harm to Ms. Main if this stay is not granted,” said Colleen Clase, co-counsel for the prosecution and a representative for the victim.
Neal agreed the circumstances did not warrant further delay of the case, which is nearing four years since Main was arrested in December 2015.
“I’m going to deny the motion to stay at this point,” she said.
The defense is expected to file an appeal of Neal’s decision.
During Wednesday’s hearing, which lasted 40 minutes, Lockwood argued that Main’s lead attorney, Cody Weagant, was overwhelmed by his caseload, which he said included another death-penalty case.
“I can’t ask Weagant to work on this case any more than he already is,” he said, adding Weagant was trying to raise a family at home.
Lockwood referred to the state’s legal tactics as a “game,” to which Clase shot back, “This is not a game.”
Later, Weagant accused the Pinal County deputy county attorneys on the case, Shawn Jensvold and Vince Goddard, of “sitting around looking for something to do” while he worked hard for his client.
Goddard was visibly offended by the statement and verbally objected. Neal nearly had to break up the verbal spat like a referee.
Lockwood said with “apologies to the young girl” who was no longer alive, “our client’s life is on the line, no one else’s.”
Main initially told authorities Tiana had been clumsy and was falling repeatedly before she died. Tiana had sustained injuries to her head, and her death was ruled a homicide by blunt force trauma.
Investigators later discovered a suicide note, allegedly written by Main.
“I, Shawn Main, take full responsibility in the death of Tiana Capps,” the note read. “She would have never had died if I sought medical attention the first night she was falling.”
The writer did not admit to harming Tiana but faulted herself for not taking action after observing the child falling over and over again.
“I am not worthy of keeping my life, when (Tiana) never had a chance to live hers,” the note read.
Tiana’s biological mother, Tina Morse, pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse in 2016 and received a two-year prison sentence.
A trial date was tentatively scheduled back in January, but the case has included multiple delays. Neal currently has a trial date scheduled for September 2020.
A status conference for an update on the appeal of the stay, in addition to disclosure of records by both parties, is set for 3 p.m. Oct. 30.