Cortland Public Defender Asks to Be Removed From Cuyler Murder Case
The Cortland County Public Defenders Office has asked to be replaced as the attorney for a Town of Cuyler man accused of strangling his wife to death back in July.
44-year-old Keith Pottorff appeared in County Court Thursday with his Attorney County Public Defender Ed Goehler, Goehler has filed a motion asking to be replaced as Pottorff’s attorney because of a potential conflict of interest.
Goehler says the conflict involves a key witness who could testify if the case goes to trial. The public defenders office on an unrelated criminal matter is, also representing the witness Nicole Willis.
Goehler says he wants to continue representing Pottorff but wanted to present the potential conflict in an effort to avoid creating issues that could be raised on an appeal.
Goehler indicated that Willis is a significant witness because she had contact with Pottorff before and after his wife’s death.
County Judge Julie Campbell said she is very concerned at the prospect of having to reassign this case to another attorney outside the Public Defender’s office as it could costs taxpayers in excess of $100 thousand dollars to represent Pottorff, in addition she feels that Goehler and his chief assistant Mike Cardinale are among the few local attorneys qualified to handle Pottorff’s defense case.
County District Attorney Mark Suben indicated he does not expect to use Willis as a witness for his case would minimize the potential conflict issues.
The Judge reserved on her decision to remove Goehler form the case
44-year-old Keith Pottorff is charged with second-degree murder, criminal possession of stolen property, forgery, and criminal possession of a forged instrument.
Pottorff is accused of killing his wife 53 year old Janet Pottorff in the couple's home at 5769 Dog Hollow Road back on July 17th.
State Police say the woman’s partially clothed body was found in a shed behind the home, a pathologist determined she had been dead a couple of days prior.
During previous hearings witness have testified that the couple had been arguing over Pottorff’s return to drugs, Janet Pottorff had been forced to provide her husband with money to support his habit.
After the body was discovered, Police found Pottorff at the Grass Roots Festival in Trumansburg. During questioning at the State Police barracks Pottorff admitted his cocaine usage and that he and his wife had argued over it. Investigators also found jewelry in Pottorff’s bag that was later identified as belonging to Janet Pottorff.
The charges against Pottorff accuse him using his dead wife’s bank debit card at various businesses and cashing a $975 dollar check from her account at First Niagara Bank.
Pottorff is being held without bail; if found guilty of the murder charge, he faces 25 years to life in prison.