LISBON - The vehicular homicide jury trial of Michael Bair was postponed Tuesday after his attorneys asked Columbiana County Municipal Court Judge Mark Frost to be allowed to withdraw from the case.
Attorneys David A. D'Apolito and Marc A. Carfolo filed the request Tuesday, only a day prior to the start of a scheduled jury trial. D'Apolito told Frost there had been a breakdown in the client relationship, adding there were differences of opinion in the strategy which should be used to defend the case.
D'Apolito went on to state one plea offer was made, accepted and then rejected. Two others were later presented to Bair, including one D'Apolito suggested was "what I considered a very fair offer." However, he continued Bair at some point may have began to believe his attorneys were only interested in getting a plea deal instead of defending him.
"There are some strategic issues Michael feels we should be investigating," D'Apolito said, while looking at Bair for the right words. "But we felt we should focus in a different direction."
Bair was also asked to speak on the issue of his attorneys. He said he has tried to speak with other attorneys to confirm whether they are defending him well or not, but other attorneys will not speak to him while he has other counsel. At the same time, Bair said he was losing confidence in his current attorneys.
While noting he has not seen anything which would show to him D'Apolito and Carfolo have done anything except defend Bair, Frost said he does not of course know everything happening in the client relationship. He agreed to allow them to step down as the defense attorneys.
Assistant County Prosecutor Don Humphrey said all plea agreement offers on the table on Tuesday have now been withdrawn. He thanked D'Apolito and Carfolo for their professionalism throughout the case.
The case was reset for pretrial on Jan. 17. Bair requested and was granted a public defender until he can determine if he can raise the funds for his own defense. Bair also said changing attorneys is not an attempt to delay the trial.
"I'd rather move on and get it done and over with," Bair said.
Bair, 31, of Poland, faces a vehicular homicide charge after David Mayfield, 35, Annesley Road, East Liverpool, was killed on March 13 by a dump truck overturning onto his Dodge Durango off the side of state Route 7. Bair, the driver of the dump truck, was hauling gravel for Sebastian Trucking Inc.