A prosecutor investigating the May 2014 murder of a Chapel Hill man has called for the removal of one of the defense attorneys, citing a potential conflict of interest.
Matthew Suczynksi represents Bartholomew Scott, one of two men charged with first-degree murder in the case of 33-year-old shooting victim Lew Hood. In a recent motion, Assistant District Attorney Lamar Proctor suggested that a third suspect, who has not been charged, made legal payments to Suczynski on Scott’s behalf.
Hood was shot multiple times with a handgun and shotgun inside a Chapel Hill residence on South Christopher Road, near the Fordham Boulevard-N.C. 54 interchange.
Proctor’s call for Suczynski’s removal centers on the third suspect, Scott Campbell, an apparent acquaintance of Scott’s. Proctor claims that shortly after the murder, Campbell told Scott he'd "handle" Scott's legal payments, and that Campbell spoke to Suczynski several times in the weeks that followed. Because Campbell is a suspect, he could, at very least, be called as a witness, setting up a conflict should Suczynski question him.
Proctor does not assert that Suczynski has violated any ethics rules or compromised his representation of Scott.
Scott called 911 to report the killing, telling the dispatcher that "he may have shot someone," according to Proctor. Prosecutors also claim that Hood’s blood was on Scott’s shirt.
Campbell apparently owed Hood a debt, and in the week leading up to the killing, Campbell had made reports to the Chapel Hill Police Department about Hood, complaining of threats, breaking and entering, and vandalism, according to Proctor's motion. The motion also suggested that Campbell lived in the house where Hood was killed.
Shortly before Scott called 911, he and Campbell allegedly made a series of calls to one another. After the killing, the two men exchanged a series of text messages.“Some guy name hood is dead," Scott wrote. “The piece of shit that was threatening me,” Campbell replied.
Minutes later, Campbell contacted Suczynski’s office and engaged in a 10-minute conversation with somebody. After that conversation, Campbell texted Scott, and said, “(w)hen he asks for payment, I’ll handle it(.) Have him call me back”.
Campbell’s phone records show approximately six calls between him and Suczynski’s cell phone in the ensuing two-month period.
Campbell’s contact information is listed in Scott’s phone as “Scott Brother 1,” and there were multiple calls exchanged between the two of them in the week leading up to the murder.
An acquaintance of Hood’s reported that he fled the murder scene after seeing a masked man wielding a handgun coming from the top floor of the residence.
The second man charged in the case is Brandon Townsend, of Durham. The month before the murder, he had been released from jail after Durham prosecutors dropped an unrelated murder charge against him.
Scott and Townsend are both in custody in the Orange County Jail.
Prosecutors announced this week that they would not seek the death penalty in the Hood case.
The next hearing is scheduled for April 28.