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Pre-trial proceedings for Collinsville man on hold in Montgomery County

By Jake Leonard

Pre-trial proceedings in the case of Robert J. Tarr of Collinsville are in a standstill for nearly a month.

Tarr is facing two murder charges in the death of 45-year-old Troy businesswoman Leslie Reeves and two charges of attempted murder relating to the shooting of 48-year-old Chris Smith of Farmersville.

The proceedings standstill is related to a May 16 motion from defense counsel David Fahrenkamp to withdraw his representation in the case.

“There was a breakdown in communications between legal counsel and the defendant,” according to the motion filed by Fahrenkamp. “The defendant has also failed to fulfill an essential element of the retainer agreement.”

Montgomery County Resident Circuit Court Judge Jim Roberts stayed the withdrawal motion with a supplemental motion to consume was also stayed. The issue surrounded an issue relating to DNA swabs on a weapon allegedly used in the crime.

Montgomery County State’s Attorney Andrew Affrunti stated that the swabs in their entirety will need to be consumed by lab analysis, meaning there will be nothing left behind to analyze further.

Fahrenkamp argued that doing so will not allow the defense any independent analysis to potentially differentiate from any presumed conclusions coming from the prosecution.

He would further state that modern-day processes can allow DNA samples to be reproduced and replicated, therefore not requiring the use of swabs. This would make way for the defense to conduct its own analysis.

Affrunti would counter by offering up a hearing with testimony from lab experts about the analysis process. Depending on whether Fahrenkamp remains as Tarr’s legal counsel, this hearing could take place later.

One of the guns currently in evidence is of significant curiosity by the defense. During a preliminary hearing in January, Detective Jeff Roach from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department testified that Tarr’s brother Adam Tarr turned over a 9mm gun to law enforcement. However, Fahrenkamp would point out that there is more than one gun currently in evidence, with only one turned over after Tarr was placed in custody at the Montgomery County Jail.

Fahrenkamp is disputing a gun discovered in the back yard of Tarr’s Collinsville residence after local law enforcement executed their search warrant and searched the premises for anything that linked Tarr to the crime.

“It is pretty clear that there’s a question raised about how a gun appeared that was turned over (to law enforcement) when they searched the place,” Fahrenkamp stated. “It appeared in plain sight.”

Very little accomplished in June 1 status hearing

Unlike the May 18 hearing, the ongoing conflict between Tarr and Fahrenkamp continued as efforts to “resolve their differences” have been unfruitful, or as the Edwardsville attorney referred to them, “unsuccessful.”

Tarr expressed that the efforts are only “going to slow down the process.” He added that they were unable to “narrow down exact details,” but are requesting additional time.

Roberts nearly granted approval to Fahrenkamp’s withdrawal motion. However, he issued a warning to Tarr.

“Any delay would be on you. I’m not inclined to bind him to this,” stated Judge Roberts.

Roberts asked Fahrenkamp if his relationship with Tarr as legal counsel can be rectified and if he can continue further. The response from Fahrenkamp was met with a tone of uncertainty.

“I don’t know how,” Fahrenkamp said. “I’m open to it. I have a desire to help him. I can help him. I don’t know what to say.”

As a result of the response, Roberts stayed the motion to withdraw once again, with another counsel status hearing set for Wednesday, June 22 at 1 p.m.

Tarr was once again reminded of his options should Fahrenkamp be granted his departure by seeking new legal counsel, having a public defender appointed by the court, or exercising his right to defend himself.

Tarr inquired of his previous motion to the court relating to personal property items currently in evidence prior to the end of the hearing. Roberts stated that he will not allow for him to call motions while still under the legal representation of Fahrenkamp. To date, Fahrenkamp has never seen a copy of the motion submitted with written correspondence to the court in April.

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