- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A judge banned a Chicago attorney on Tuesday from representing at trial a former doctor charged with killing four people with ties to an Omaha medical school, but allowed her legal partners to continue.

Douglas County District Judge Gary Randall ruled that Alison Motta may not be allowed to speak at trial or sit at the defense table, although she can still assist in the defense of Anthony Garcia. The judge said Motta made comments to reporters days before Garcia’s trial was to begin that violated ethical rules and interfered with the administration of justice.

Garcia has pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder. Authorities have said he was motivated by revenge over professional grudges, including his being fired from Creighton University’s pathology department.

Motta had told reporters that DNA collected by police in another homicide case exonerated Garcia. Prosecutors contend that’s not true.

“Although she surely intended her comments to be a defense to her client, the court finds that the comments were so inflammatory, they prejudiced (Garcia) and damaged (Garcia) in the eyes of the public,” Randall wrote in his order.

Motta’s law partners - her husband Robert Motta Jr. and father-in-law Robert Motta Sr., will still represent Garcia at the trial, the timing of which will be set later, according to the judge’s order. A phone message left for the Mottas was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Garcia’s trial had been set to begin Monday. It was postponed Thursday when two other Omaha attorneys who had been working with the Mottas withdrew after prosecutors accused Alison Motta of trying to taint the jury pool with her comments about DNA evidence. Other Omaha attorneys came forward Monday to work with the Mottas.

State law allows out-of-state attorneys in good standing to practice in Nebraska, as long as they are associated and appear with a Nebraska attorney.

Garcia is charged in the March 2008 slayings of Dr. William Hunter’s 11-year-old son, Thomas Hunter, and the family’s housekeeper, Shirlee Sherman, as well as the May 2013 killings of Dr. Roger Brumback and his wife, Mary.

Roger Brumback and William Hunter had been instrumental in Garcia’s firing in 2001, and both men sent letters to medical boards that prevented Garcia from becoming licensed in other states and from finishing residency programs.

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