DANVILLE — Bethany Stanziano, the attorney for a former Pulaski County preacher charged with three counts of murder, was allowed to withdraw from the case Monday after she filed a motion saying she was not in the state of mind to provide effective assistance in the wake of her husband's fatal shooting a year ago.
Sandra E. Downs of the state Department for Public Advocacy succeeded Stanziano of Columbia and Brad Coffman of Bowling Green as the attorney for Kenneth Allen Keith.
Keith, who was a preacher at Main Street Baptist Church in Burnside, is accused of shooting Michael Hockensmith, 35, and his wife, Angela Hockensmith, 38, both of Stanford, and gold broker Daniel Smith, 60, of Richmond. The three were killed in September 2013 at ABC Gold, Games and More in Danville, a store co-owned by the Hockensmiths.
Keith, 49, faces the possibility of execution if he is convicted of murder, robbery and burglary.
Bethany Stanziano took over the defense of Keith after her husband, lawyer Mark Stanziano, 57, was killed outside his Somerset office last June.
In her withdrawal motion, Bethany Stanziano also cited her and Coffman's lack of experience in death penalty cases, the "broken" relationship between Coffman and Keith, and her caseload.
A hearing to determine whether Keith is competent to stand trial had been scheduled for Monday but was postponed as a result of his change in counsel. It was rescheduled for July 27.