SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

August 15, 2012

Third lawyer asks to withdraw from slashing case

DANVERS — A third lawyer appointed to represent a Danvers sex offender charged with slashing a police officer last August is now seeking to withdraw from the case.

Roy Limbaugh is facing a string of charges, including attempted murder, in the Aug. 19 stabbing of Danvers Patrolman John Melto. Police had been attempting to serve warrants.

But with just days to go before the first anniversary of the nearly deadly encounter outside Limbaugh’s Popes Lane mobile home, there hasn’t even been a pretrial hearing in the case.

And that led to an unusual display of frustration by veteran prosecutor Gerald Shea during yesterday’s hearing in Salem Superior Court.

“The case is a year old, your honor,” Shea said, as Judge Howard Whitehead suggested, “If I were the judge at this point, Mr. Limbaugh would be representing himself.”

But Whitehead opted to defer to Judge John Lu, who has more experience with the case. Because Lu was not available yesterday, Limbaugh will be back in court Monday.

During a hearing last month, Limbaugh was warned of the possibility that he’ll have to represent himself if he could not work with John Apruzzese, the third lawyer appointed to represent Limbaugh since his indictment.

Within days of the appointment, however, Limbaugh told Apruzzese that he had five days to meet his demands, including filing a counterclaim against the Danvers police and retrieving his Volkswagen, which was impounded by police. Like his predecessor in the case, Apruzzese did not pursue those demands, because they are beyond the scope of his representation.

When Apruzzese went to visit Limbaugh, according to court papers, Limbaugh told him, “You do not represent me. It’s going to be a short meeting.”

Limbaugh complained that Apruzzese “made a fool of me” in court.

“It is clear that there is an irreparable breakdown in communication between the attorney and client,” Apruzzese told the judge.

Melto, sometimes accompanied by his wife, has appeared at every court proceeding in the case since his release from the hospital shortly after the attack, but has opted not to speak about the case while it is pending.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.

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