A man accused of killing his former fiancee in 2007 was in Muscogee County Superior Court Thursday for a hearing to discuss his attorney’s potential conflicts of interest in the case.
Mark Herrington, who is represented by Columbus attorney Richard Hagler, appeared before Judge John Allen in a hearing held prior to Herrington’s case being presented to a grand jury.
Herrington is accused of killing Karen Carter. She was found strangled in the trunk of her car on Jan. 5, 2007 at her Bridlewood subdivision home.
After the hearing, District Attorney Crawford Seals said the court appearance became necessary when some of Carter’s friends and family alleged a relationship between Hagler and Carter “that exceeded a legal relationship.”
Hagler represented Carter in a custody and visitation dispute several years ago. She was involved with Herrington at the time, and Hagler said he was paid by Herrington. Later, after the two had split up, Carter approached Hagler to represent her in another matter, he said. He did not represent her in that instance.
Hagler, after the hearing, said he'd never had a personal relationship with Carter. "I didn’t," Hagler said. "Never have had."
During the hearing, Allen asked Seals if he anticipated testimony would cause Hagler to have to testify.
“I don’t foresee that,” Seals said.
Allen asked Herrington if there had been a close relationship between his attorney and the deceased, would that pose a problem?
“No, sir,” Herrington responded.
At the end of the five-minute hearing, Herrington, wearing an untucked button-downed shirt, blue jeans and loafers, was clear he wanted Hagler to continue to represent him.
“He represented me in ’84 and ’87 and I want him to represent me in this,” Herrington said.
Herrington had federal drug convictions in 1984 and 1988. He was sentenced to four years in prison for cocaine distribution in 1984 and 15 years for a similar charge in 1988.
He is currently being held in the Muscogee County jail, where he has been since his arrest in January 2007.Seals said Allen was using caution by holding the hearing.
“I think the judge wanted to put it on the record so that Mr. Herrington was aware of it,” Seals said.