---- — Staff Report
MT. VERNON — Murder suspect Damondros James, 20, of Mt. Vernon, has been appointed a new attorney.
James was in court on Wednesday and former defense attorney Bob Verhines asked to be removed as James’ attorney. Judge Jo Beth Weber appointed West Frankfort attorney Aaron Hopkins to defend James.
James and three other men face first-degree murder charges in the May 31, 2010, shooting death of 75-year-old Charles Ellis, a cab driver who was slain at the intersection of Sixth and Bell streets during an attempted robbery.
James is due back in court on June 18 for a pre-trial hearing. One of the defendants, Christopher Wells, has already entered an open plea and awaits sentencing. The remaining defendants are Demandre Black, 18, of Swansea, and 19-year-old Mark Anthony Taylor Jr. of Mt. Vernon.
Black has a pre-trial hearing scheduled 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, a jury pre-trial on Aug. 6 and an Aug. 20 trial date. He is represented by Assistant Public Defender Todd Ringel.
Taylor has a hearing scheduled for 1 p.m. a week from today. He is being represented by attorney Jerry Crisel.