The convicted wifekiller granted a new trial after a judge found his original defense attorney was incompetent is facing a second jury trial but it appears likely it won’t happen until later this year or possibly the next.
Quincy Dean Norton Sr., of Daly City, 35, was ordered back to court July 30 to set a new trial date. The trial date will give newly appointed attorney Lisa Maguire more time to familiarize herself with the case.
Maguire could not be reached for comment on how closely the second trial will mimic the first and the importance of issues raised during the motion for new trial such as lab results from a kitchen knife at the scene that the original defense attorney did not have retested.
Norton has been in custody on no-bail status since his arrest in the July 22, 2006 killing. When he faces a new trial, more than three years will have passed since the death of Tamika Norton. As with the first, the second jury must determine if Norton stabbed his estranged wife while their three children were in nearby rooms or if somebody else, like his girlfriend, is a more likely culprit.
Norton was found guilty May 15, 2008 after a three-week trial which pitted Norton’s story of finding his wife dead against a prosecution case including the testimony of his two oldest children and his wife’s family. The defense implied Norton’s girlfriend, Anitra Johnson, had a hand in the murder but in the end jurors sided with the prosecution’s theory that Norton stabbed his wife multiple times after she filed for divorce and asked that he have limited contact with their three children.
During the trial, one son said he went to his mother’s room in response to the scream and saw his father holding her down. The child did not remember seeing a weapon or blood before his father ordered him back to his room. Both boys said the elder Norton came out of the bedroom and told them to get dressed before going to McDonald’s in East Palo Alto for breakfast. Norton dropped the children off at another house and evaded police more than a month before police arrested him at a San Jose bus stop. He testified during trial that he fled out of fear someone would kill him on sight.
Daly City police found Mack Norton’s body after family members grew concerned because she did not attend the friend’s funeral which she had organized and for whom she had taken a collection.
In late May, more than a year after Norton’s conviction, he was granted a new trial after Judge Craig Parsons found his privately retained attorney Pat Fox did not provide adequate counsel. Fox’s refusal to continue last May’s murder trial and re-test a potential murder weapon for DNA left Norton without a fair trial, according to the court.
During a two-day hearing for a new trial, Norton’s post-conviction attorney Mitri Hanania implied Fox was worried that her retainer was inadequate and wouldn’t push for more time and testing because it would come out of pocket. She denied that, saying defense does not provide her primary support. Fox also acknowledged not retesting a specific kitchen knife that tested positive for DNA not excluding Norton’s girlfriend, Anitra Johnson. Hanania said that knife could have been the murder weapon although the prosecution during the original trial argued otherwise. Fox, freed of the attorney-client privilege by the court, said an expert had warned her testing the knife in question could implicate Norton by not excluding him from a DNA mixture on its handle. The first test only turned up signs of Johnson, who Fox implicated as the killer during the trial. Rather than risk turning attention back to her client, Fox said she knowingly allowed the wrong lab work to stand and that Norton knew of the strategy.
If Norton is convicted again of the same charges, he faces 26 years to life in prison on charges of first-degree murder and the use of a knife.
Michelle Durand can be reached by e-mail: email@example.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.