The search for legal representation for a man accused of murdering 26-year-old San Luis Obispo resident Kristen Marti will stretch into a fourth day Wednesday after yet another local defense attorney declared a conflict in the case.
Robert William Koehler, 36, of Arroyo Grande, still has not entered a plea as the search for an appropriate attorney continues.
Koehler's San Luis Obispo Superior Court arraignment on a single count of murder was continued for a third time Tuesday after attorney Paul Phillips cited an unspecified conflict. Phillips told Judge Ginger Garrett that he realized the conflict after he spent the last week reviewing the District Attorney's Office's discovery, which includes roughly 2,000 pages of reports, as well the prosecution's proposed witness list.
According to court records, Phillips was at least the second local private defense attorney appointed to represent Koehler since the Public Defender's Office declared that it too had a conflict in the case and would contract a so-called "conflict public defender" to provide low-cost representation to Koehler as required by law.
Attorneys may declare a conflict for a variety of reasons; if they've previously represented someone who's expected to be called as a witness, for example.
Garrett appointed yet another attorney, who will report back to the judge at another arraignment hearing on Wednesday.
Koehler, who waived his right to a speedy trial, will remain in San Luis Obispo County Jail, where he's being held without bail.
Few details about the alleged murder have been made public. The District Attorney's Office's complaint in the case includes a sentencing enhancement for use of a deadly weapon, a knife. The complaint also states that Koehler has a prior felony conviction for carjacking out of Shasta County in 2005.
The body of Marti, who had been missing since Jan. 9, was discovered April 2 following a large-scale search of the Perfumo Canyon area, where she is believed to have been last seen with Koehler, who did not have a prior relationship with Marti, San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deanna Cantrell said at a news conference at the time.
On May 16, San Luis Obispo police announced that they arrested Koehler, who had previously been identified as a person of interest in the case, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after a warrant was issued when he left San Luis Obispo County with his wife on May 2.
He was held in the Hennepin County Jail in Minnesota before being extradited to California on June 1.