By Taylor Risse
A day set to be the sentencing of Daniel and Rangler Ceplecha for the murder of Moses Red Bear, turned into a hearing for a motion for new council.
On May 4, a joint letter was sent and signed by both Ceplechas to the court requesting new council and that they were requesting to withdraw their guilty pleas.
At a change of plea hearing on February 28, Daniel and Rangler Ceplecha entered pleas of guilty to first degree manslaughter.
At the hearing on Wednesday, June 6, Judge Bobbi Rank heard out the Ceplecha’s reasoning for new council. Daniel is being represented by John Murphy and Rangler by Brad Borge.
According to the letter sent on May 4, their reasoning behind wanting new council was: they were “forced” into pleading guilty, they were “horribly misrepresented”, the State has three lawyers compared to them each having one, their attorneys haven’t done anything they asked of them, and they didn’t feel their safety and medical needs were met.
Judge Rank put Daniel Ceplecha on the stand, and under oath, asked him why he felt they were being “horribly misrepresented”.
His reasons were he didn’t feel Mr. Murphy followed through with “checking out” the witness and victim for background checks, and their character and arrest records; the lawyers let a witness get on the stand and lie; Daniel felt they were being misrepresented since the state had three lawyers and they each only had one; and they were not being reassured that their safety and medical needs were met.
Rangler was also put on the stand and under oath agreed with everything that Daniel had stated and added that Mr. Borge did not listen to him. When asked to explain, he stated he did not want to take a competency evaluation but Mr. Borge made him anyway.
The State requested that Judge Rank deny the Ceplecha’s request for new council.
At that time Judge Rank took a recess to make her decision.
After recess Judge Bobbi Rank reported her findings that according to records both attorneys have spent numerous hours on the case and they had hired a private investigator, who also spent many hours, to look into the victim and witness. She reported that Mr. Borge, as Rangler’s attorney, had a right and obligation to submit Rangler to a competency evaluation. At the February 2018, hearing the state offered the plea of first degree manslaughter and both Daniel and Rangler were extensively asked if they were satisfied with their representation, if they knew what they were pleading too, and if they were willingly pleading guilty, to all of which they answered yes. The appointed council does not have anything to do with the safety and medial needs of their clients and the fact that the state has three lawyers does not pertain to how well Mr. Murphy and Mr. Borge do their jobs.
Judge Bobbi Rank denied the motion to remove council and reported that she had not yet determined the motion for change of plea. A hearing will be held at a later date.