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Fujita Retains Current Lawyer, Judge Hears Motions About Psychiatric Evaluation

Nathaniel Fujita earlier indicated his desire to retain new counsel, but today told a judge his current lawyer will represent him when he goes to trial for murder.

Nathaniel Fujita told a judge Friday that he has decided to remain with his current counsel after indicating he wanted to retain new representation earlier this month.

"I've had an opportunity to speak with him and it is my understanding that he does not want me to withdraw," attorney William Sullivan told Judge S. Jane Haggerty.

Fujita is being charged with the 2011 murder of Lauren Astley, his ex-girlfriend and Wayland High School Class of 2011 classmate.

Earlier this month, Fujita told Haggerty that he didn't "feel comfortable" with his current lawyer representing him, and he had another lawyer in mind that he wanted to retain.

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The probation department subsequently declared Fujita indigent and eligible for a court-appointed attorney. Fujita, however, requested and was granted until a hearing on Oct. 16 to obtain funding for the attorney of his choice rather than accepting court-appointed representation. On Oct. 16, Haggerty allowed him additional time during that scheduled hearing.

Following the initial request to change lawyers, George Mattingly, a spokesperson for Fujita's family, said that his parents, Tomo and Beth Fujita, did not agree with their son's decision to part ways with his lawyer and hoped he would remain with Sullivan.

"In cases like this, it's not unusual for outside people to talk and raise issues and questions," Sullivan explained after the Oct. 19 hearing. "But we've resolved all the issues and answered all the questions.

"The important thing was for the defendant to be comfortable," Sullivan said, adding that it was also important to keep the process moving forward as it is a painful situation for both the victim's and defendant's families.

Motions Under Review

Also at Friday's hearing, Haggerty heard the defense's request to have Fujita's evaluation with the Commonwealth's psychiatric expert, Dr. Alison Fife, video or audio taped.

The psychiatric evaluation comes as part of Sullivan's request in September to possibly pursue an insanity defense when Fujita goes to trial. Both the Commonwealth and defense have selected experts, Dr. Wade Meyers for the defense, to examine Fujita.

Prosecutor Lisa McGovern argued that it was not fair for the state's examination to be recorded when the defense's, conducted earlier, had not been.

In another motion, McGovern requested that the state's psychiatric examiner have access to all of Fujita's medical records, saying that they could be relevant.

Sullivan, however, argued that some of Fujita's records, such as MRIs and x-rays, were "clearly not relevant."

Haggerty did not rule on the motions today, but said she will take them under advisement.

The judge did encourage both sides to talk with their respective experts and witnesses in order to determine availability through April 2013. Fujita's trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 22, 2013, but Haggerty pointed out that it could likely be delayed.

New dates will be discussed during a status hearing on Nov. 16 at 2 p.m.

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