- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 9, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A man charged with murder has told a judge that he wants to keep his lawyer, an Omaha attorney criticized for hiring a witness in the case as a receptionist.

James Cotton, 61, told Douglas County District Judge Gary Randall on Monday that he understood the ramifications of what could be seen as potential ethical violations by his attorney, Travis Penn, the Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/2aIXHwJ ) reported. But, Cotton said, he wants to continue with the trial.

Cotton is charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Trevor Bare in August 2015, as well as three other felonies.

Before Monday’s hearing, Cotton was given an article published by the newspaper Sunday that explained how Penn hired Lindsey Redinbaugh, 31, as his receptionist.

Prosecutors say Redinbaugh sent messages telling another witness to not “snitch” while her boss was questioning the witness in a pretrial deposition. She has been charged with witness tampering.

Penn said last week that Redinbaugh worked for him as a receptionist for three days, that the agreement was to pay her $100 a month and that he didn’t pay her. Penn said he researched ethics rules and didn’t see that he wouldn’t be allowed to have a business agreement with a witness.

Prosecutors filed a motion Thursday asking the judge to not allow Redinbaugh to testify in Cotton’s trial.

Prosecutor Chad Brown said Monday that he wanted Cotton to be aware of Penn’s actions. Brown also said that if Cotton understood what had happened, the prosecution wouldn’t object to allowing the case to continue.

Prosecutors seized Redinbaugh’s phone to investigate it for evidence in the witness-tampering case. Penn objected, saying the phone could contain some of his firm’s work, which is private, but the judge reviewed the phone’s data and said there was nothing of the sort.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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