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Killer of Flagstaff officer told latest appeal rejected

A young man convicted of killing a Flagstaff police officer and who lost an appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court last year has been told his latest bid for a new trial has been rejected.

Appeals lawyers for Eric Clark, 25, asked for a new trial on the grounds that the lawyer who represented him at his 2003 trial provided an insufficient legal defense.

After a two-part hearing that began last month in Flagstaff, Coconino County Superior Court Judge Dan Slayton rejected the argument in a ruling issued Thursday.

Clark was sentenced to life in prison for the shooting death of Officer Jeff Moritz on June 21, 2000, after a judge found him guilty of intentionally killing the officer. A paranoid schizophrenic, Clark shot Moritz after the officer pulled his car over in a Flagstaff neighborhood because he was blaring loud music. Clark was 17 at the time.

He appealed his conviction, alleging the state’s insanity defense law was too strict. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that Arizona’s law does not improperly limit evidence defendants can present at trial.

In the appeal rejected Thursday, Clark argued that his trial lawyer failed to again raise the issue of his competency after receiving a psychologist’s report that said he was not fit to stand trial.

Slayton rejected the claim, ruling that his competency had been extensively reviewed by the court, prosecutors and his lawyer and the new report added nothing new.

Slayton also rejected claims that his original lawyer erred by waiving his right to a jury trial, limiting expert testimony, not re-arguing the competency issue during trial and making a mistake that could have raised evidence issues on appeal.

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