Nixa State House Representative Tricia Derges has decided that a local Springfield lawyer isn’t the best choice for heading up her legal defense to fraud and drug charges.
Attorney Stacie Bilyeu’s office confirmed to KWTO Monday morning that they are no longer working with Rep. Derges. On last week, St. Louis attorney Albert Watkins was added to her defense team.
Watkins, whosewebsite biography says he’s “self-centered, egotistical, and a self-proclaimed expert in all matters” and quotes an opposing counsel as saying “the most dangerous place in the world as being the space between Al Watkins and a microphone,” is known for media-grabbing cases.
He represented the daughter of Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man shot an killed by St. Louis police in 2011, in a lawsuit to reopen a settlement after the discovery of withheld DNA evidence. He also represents Jake Angeli, the man who stormed the U.S. Capitol building wearing a fur hat with horns while wearing red, white, and blue face paint.
Watkins burst from the gate at full speed during a Friday interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“It’s troubling to me when one of our primary elected hired hands in our state has chosen to selectively disregard that fundamental constitutional tenet [of the presumption of innocence],” Watkins told the Post Dispatch. “That does not bode well for the future of our state if that is the position that truly is being taken by the speaker of the House.”
House Speaker Rob Vescovo and Republican leadership have stripped Derges of any committee assignments, removed her from the Republican caucus, and moved her office to a windowless closet.
Derges sent an e-mail to Speaker Vescovo where she vows not to step down and that she is innocent of all federal charges.