BLOOMINGTON — The lawyer for accused killer Kirk Zimmerman was granted a delay Tuesday in a hearing on the state's effort to remove her from the case so she and lawyers at her firm can consult with their own attorney.
Kirk Zimmerman, 56, faces first-degree murder charges in the Nov. 4 shooting death of his ex-wife, Pamela Zimmerman, at her Bloomington office.
The McLean County State's Attorney's Office argues Stephanie Wong should be disqualified from handling his defense because she and two lawyers at the firm, Skelton and Wong, met with three potential witnesses — and Kirk Zimmerman — before he was charged with the murder in July.
Judge Scott Drazewski granted a defense request to continue the hearing until Sept. 24 to allow the law firm to meet with James Elmore, a Springfield lawyer who will represent the attorneys.
In asking for the continuance, Wong argued she may be called as a witness at the hearing, making it impossible to serve as Zimmerman's counsel and a witness at the same time.
A Maroa-Forsyth High School graduate who had become engaged to another man, Pamela Zimmerman was shot four times after she finished a 5:30 p.m. meeting with her last client on Nov. 3, according to police.
The three witnesses named in the state's motion to bar Wong from the case include Eldon Whitlow, who prosecutors said was Pamela Zimmerman's last client and who also is likely to be the last person to see her alive.
Her fiance, Scott Baldwin, and a friend, Lee DeYoung, also are identified in the motion as witnesses who asked attorneys with Wong's firm to accompany them to the police station for interviews in the days after the murder.
The presence of Steve Skelton at police interviews with Whitlow and Josh Rinker, another of the firm's lawyers, for the questioning of DeYoung puts Wong in a conflict of interest situation, the state argues.
Wong's involvement with the investigation prior to Kirk Zimmerman's July 21 arrest included a phone conversation with Baldwin in December and her attendance at a July 22 custody hearing for the suspect. Wong took notes as she sat in the courtroom with Zimmerman's girlfriend, and filed her appearance as his lawyer before his July 31 arraignment.
The state's request to disqualify Wong also delayed a hearing on a defense motion to reduce Zimmerman's $5 million bond. He remains in jail.