Over her objections, murder suspect Lorna Jean Leen has had the Public Defender’s Office re-appointed to represent her, and a delay granted in her preliminary hearing.


Leen, accused along with her son of murdering a 16-year-old Eureka boy, had been temporarily represented by private attorney Neal Sanders, appointed while the Public Defender’s Office investigated whether it had a conflict in her case. Today Deputy Public Defender Casey Russo told Judge Christopher Wilson his office has no conflict and can represent Leen. She then spoke up.

“I would like to keep Mr. Sanders as my attorney,” Leen told the judge. “I got a notice from his office saying he will be my attorney.”

Wilson told Leen that was an error, and she must accept a public defender as her lawyer.

“We accept appointment,” Russo said, and then made a motion to continue Leen’s preliminary hearing, which had been scheduled for next week. Russo said he is expecting “voluminous discovery” (evidence) from the District Attorney’s Office within the next day or two, and time is needed to prepare for the hearing. Leen again objected, refusing to give up her right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days of her arraignment.

“Here’s how it works,” Wilson told her, explaining that her attorney needs time to prepare. In addition, the District Attorney’s Office has a right to designate a prosecutor for the case, and Deputy District Attorney Roger Rees, the assigned deputy, will not be available on the scheduled date.

Rees did not object to the delay, confirming that more discovery is on its way to the defense.

Leen’s new preliminary hearing date is Sept. 5.

Leen and her 15-year-old son, who for now is in Juvenile Court, are charged with murdering 16-year-old Brandon Brocious on Aug. 9 at Ocean View Cemetery in Eureka. Her son is also charged with personal use of a knife.

The son entered denials to the charges at an arraignment in Juvenile Court. The District Attorney’s Office is seeking to have him tried as an adult, with a hearing on that issue scheduled for October. Private attorney Christina Allbright has been appointed to represent him.

Leen and her son were arrested the morning after the fatal stabbing. She was found at a homeless camp near Bayshore Mall and her son was nearby.