A case that's had a few twists and turns took another swerve on Monday.
With public defender James Kelley still hospitalized with what's expected to be an extended medical issue, Circuit Court Judge Richard A. Brown appointed Sparta attorney Beth Heaton to represent Jason Stoker.
"Mr. Kelley's medical condition has not improved and he is expected to have surgery," Walker told Brown. "It would be best to appoint a new attorney to keep this matter moving along."
The 35-year-old Stoker, of Chester, has been charged with two counts of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, and one count each of reckless homicide and first-degree murder in alleged connection to the October 28, 2016 fatal accident involving fallen Chester police officer and volunteer firefighter James Brockmeyer.
Stoker is also awaiting federal trial next year on one count of conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine. He was previously scheduled for a December 11 trial on the state charges, but instead Stoker and his new attorney will meet with Brown and Walker for a case management conference instead.
In a follow-up interview after the hearing, Walker was asked if the case hits the reset button with the change in attorneys.
"I wouldn't think of it as hitting the reset button," he said. "It's very much still in high gear."
Walker privately met with Don Brockmeyer, James's father, prior to the hearing and apparently informed him of the news. Walker told the Herald Tribune the State "will do everything we can to help Ms. Heaton get up to speed."
"One advantage to coming in late is there is no waiting," he said. "A lot of the time in the court process you're waiting for reports to come back.
"All that information just needs to be tendered to her."
Asked when he anticipated the trial to take place, Walker said it was "not unreasonable" to have the case tried during the January jury setting.
The parties are due back in court on December 11 at 1 p.m.