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Dave Roepke, Published September 02 2010

Accused murderer to no longer have private Twin Cities attorney

A Clay County judge has agreed to let a Twin Cities attorney stop representing Clarence Burcham, who’s accused in the fatal strangling of Sharon Stafford in Moorhead in 1993.

Burcham’s family hasn’t been able to make agreed-upon fee payments, said Tracy Eichhorn-Hicks, the defense attorney.

He didn’t say what his fee was, but the lawyer said Burcham’s family has only paid 20 percent of the initial amount.

Eichhorn-Hicks said he would like to continue to defend Burcham, who calls him from jail three or four times a day, but he can’t afford to without payment.

Clay County Attorney Brian Melton said he’d like Eichhorn-Hicks to stay on as Burcham’s attorney, as they’ve negotiated about a possible settlement.

“All that would be gone, and we’d basically be starting anew,” Melton said.

Judge Galen Vaa said he didn’t think the attorney stepping down would be prejudicial.

“If this case was on the eve of a jury trial, I might be of a different opinion,” he said.

Vaa will delay the order allowing Eichhorn-Hicks to step down until Sept. 9 to give his family some time to see if they can come up with the cash.

If they don’t, Vaa said Burcham will be appointed a public defender.