Murder suspect Russell Tillis withdraws request to remove another lawyer

57-year-old charged with kidnapping, killing, dismembering woman

By Joy Purdy - 5:30, 6:30 & 11 p.m. anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A man accused of kidnapping, killing and dismembering a woman whose remains were found buried at his Southside home withdrew a petition Wednesday to have another attorney removed from his case.

In a new motion handwritten by Russell Tillis, he said attorney Michael Bossen has provided ineffective counsel. He said he wants Bossen removed from the case, and informs Judge Mark Borello that failure to do so will be a reversible error if Tillis is convicted at trial.

At Wednesday's hearing, Tillis withdrew the petition, saying he and Bossen had "reconciled the issues raised in the petition."

Tillis, 57, is charged in the murder of Joni Gunter, whose remains were found buried at Tillis’ home on the Southside. 

Tillis was arrested in 2015 and pleaded guilty to assaulting police officers trying to arrest him for violating a neighbor’s injunction.

The murder charges were filed last year, after Gunter’s remains were discovered.

Since his arrest, Tillis has gone through seven lawyers and has complained to the judge repeatedly about their incompetence and failure to follow his direction. One of the lawyers abruptly withdrew from the case last month amid Tillis’ claims that he was also giving bad legal advice.

A second chair was appointed Wednesday. It’s a death penalty case, which typically means there are two lawyers. 

Bossen advised the judge that he may seek a continuance of the Nov. 5 trial date, because of the delay getting a second chair appointed. The State Attorney’s Office said it is ready for trial.

Tillis is back in court Oct. 10.

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