Lawyer can’t drop case of mom of autistic teen

In a photo provided by the Benzie County Sheriff, Kelli Stapleton is shown in a booking photo. (AP Photo/Benzie County Sheriff, HOPD)

BEULAH, Mich. (AP) — Just days before trial, a defense lawyer has been ordered to stay on the case of a Michigan woman accused of trying to kill her autistic daughter.

Attorney Heidi Hodek says there has been a “total breakdown” in her relationship with Kelli Stapleton. But a Benzie County judge refused to remove Hodek on Tuesday.

The 46-year-old Stapleton is accused of trying to kill herself and her teenage daughter last year with carbon monoxide poisoning, by igniting charcoal grills inside a van. The girl has severe autism and sometimes had violent outbursts.

Trial is set for Sept. 3.

Stapleton hired Hodek to represent her. Prosecutor Sara Swanson says the judge indicated that Stapleton could fire Hodek if she’s dissatisfied.

Swanson says there’s no sign that Stapleton wants a new lawyer.

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Information from: Traverse City Record-Eagle

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