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Accused child killer to appear in court

October 19, 2018

The most recent attorney of a man accused in the slaying of a Bullhead City child is scheduled to appear in Mohave County Superior Court today for a status conference.

Justin J. Rector has waited four years for a trial, and the Mohave County Attorney’s Office has been eager to give him one, according to court records. Defending Rector, however, has been a challenge.

Phoenix defense attorney Julia Cassels is the fifth attorney to be assigned to Rector’s case. According to prior statements by Cassels to Today’s News-Herald, the state of Arizona has disclosed all evidence for discovery to previous counsel, but attempts to retrieve such records and testimony have proven difficult. In August, Cassels requested from prosecutors copies of all documents in the case disclosed to previous attorneys in Rector’s defense, which she had yet to receive from the Mohave County Attorney’s Office.

As she continued to chart the course of Rector’s defense this month, Cassels on Oct. 17 filed a motion to authorize a $2,500 grant from Mohave County’s Indigent Defense Fund. The money will be used to fulfill the next series of invoices she will be required to obtain in the case, according to court documents. She also requested a stay of proceedings as she attempts to procure expert testimony for Rector’s defense.

Rector was arrested in September 2014 on charges stemming from the disappearance and alleged murder of 8-year-old Isabella Grogan-Cannella, whose body was located in a shallow grave that month. The victim was found strangled, her body partially-clothed in a shallow grave near her home. According to prosecutors, Rector was a guest in the home of Cannella’s mother and stepfather at the time of the killing.