A long-awaited hearing on a murder suspect's mental competency was delayed Monday.
Drifter Jose Pazos is accused of murdering social worker Kathleen Smith in Burlington, Vermont, in the fall of 2010.
However, Pazos has yet to stand trial because his mental competency has been debated for years and he has gone through a series of defense attorneys.
In his initial court appearances, Pazos pleaded not guilty. Recently, he has been held in a psychiatric care facility.
Monday, before the latest hearing got underway, defense attorney Brian Marsicovetere told Judge Dennis Pearson he felt he was unable to represent Pazos well because a report written by a forensic psychiatrist retained by the court referenced the lawyer.
The section of the report in question, read aloud by Judge Pearson in court, contained the doctor's opinion that the defense attorney likely signaled Pazos might want to not cooperate with experts who were not hired by the defense.
The section of the report described the move as "a preferred tactic" by the defense.
Fearing a "cloud of suspicion" may hang over the hearing, Judge Pearson ruled that the competency question should be tabled for another day.
Marsicovetere declined comment after the hearing.
The move was a frustrating blow to family members of Kathleen Smith, who had traveled to the court for the hearing from as far away as Colorado.
Reporter Jack Thurston will have an update on the case, with reaction from the murder victim's family, Monday afternoon on necn.