Attorney: Too little cash for transgender killing defense

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – The head of Missouri’s public defender system says a suspect in the slaying of a transgender teen should be spared from facing the death sentence if he’s convicted because there isn’t enough money to adequately defend him.

Missouri State Public Defender Office director Michael Barrett argued this month in Andrew Vrba’s first-degree murder case that it’s not fair that the state is stepping in to help county prosecutors while also “depriving the defense of the resources necessary to provide diligent, effective, and conflict-free-representation.”

Barrett’s motion is the latest effort to draw attention to funding problems that have prompted an ACLU lawsuit and led Missouri public defenders to turn down some new case.

The Missouri attorney general’s office and the Texas County, Missouri prosecutor didn’t immediately return phone messages Wednesday.