Another lawyer allowed to withdraw from Russell Tillis case

Tillis' 11th lawyer dropped as 2nd chair; Tillis wants lead counsel out, too

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man charged with kidnapping, killing and burying a woman in the yard of his Southside home will be getting yet another lawyer.

Russell Tillis is accused in the murder of Joni Gunter, whose remains were found in his yard in 2016.

John Rockwell, a former assistant state attorney who prosecuted Tillis in 2007 on a prostitution charge, was appointed as Tillis' 11th defense lawyer on April 1.

Judge Mark Borello granted a motion Friday for Rockwell, who was the second chair, to withdraw from the case.

Attorney Chuck Fletcher is still Tillis’ lead defense lawyer, but may not be for much longer. 

Tillis filed a Nelson motion, saying he wanted Fletcher removed from the case. He addressed complaints about Fletcher, saying Fletcher's ongoing “I don’t care” mentality is unacceptable. 

Prosecutors contend Tillis is gaming the system to delay justice. 

Prosecutors also interviewed Janis Eldridge, a private investigator who was subpoenaed and brought in for a sworn statement in the case. Prosecutors said Eldridge refused to answer questions and have filed a motion to compel Eldridge to testify in a deposition.

Eldridge stood before Borello on Friday morning under oath, saying she has been a private investigator for Tillis since 2015.

Borello took the two motions under advisement and will rule during Tillis’ next court appearance on July 25.

Borello set a new trial date for Jan. 13,  2020, saying those dates could change again depending on the ruling next Thursday.