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Alleged killer's trial delayed

Posted: January 7, 2009 9:35 p.m.
Updated: January 8, 2009 4:59 a.m.

SAN FERNANDO - A judge continued Michael Dean Stephens' murder trial until Feb. 4 after he switched lawyers Wednesday at the San Fernando Superior Court.

"I was retained to handle the pre-trial hearing only. Now I'm handing the case over to a court-appointed attorney," said Richard Hirsch, formerly Stephens' private attorney.

Court-appointed public defender Betsy Mogul took over the case Wednesday.

Stephens, 19, is accused of the Nov. 24, 2007 slaying of Joshua Pipho.

Stephens allegedly stabbed Pipho, 20, then drove over him with a car at a house party.

Pipho's friend, Chad Weitz, 22, came to Pipho's aide during the slaying. Stephens then allegedly ran down Weitz and stabbed him 17 times.

Doctors treated Weitz for a punctured lung and major blood loss.

Stephens is charged with murder and attempted premeditated murder because he had time to think about the alleged assault.

If convicted on both counts, he could face two life sentences, a district attorney spokesperson said.

"I need to get information from Mr. Hirsch because I don't know much about the case except what the charges are," Mogul said.

Superior Court Judge Barbara Scheper granted a continuance to allow Mogul enough time to get up to speed on the case.

Scheper set Stephens' arraignment date for Feb. 4 at San Fernando Superior Court.


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