Russell Tillis' lawyers allowed to withdraw from case

Man charged with killing, dismembering woman now on 10th attorney

By Ashley Harding - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A man accused of killing, dismembering and burying a young woman at his Southside home has been assigned yet another attorney after the judge in the case agreed to allow the two lawyers representing Russell Tillis to withdraw from the case.

Tillis' murder trial is set for May, but he'll be moving ahead with lawyer No. 10, Duval County Judge Mark Borello ruled Wednesday morning. 

Tillis is facing the death penalty. Prosecutors say he murdered Joni Lynn Gunter and buried her remains on his Southside property.

Tillis has had multiple attorneys representing him, and in the last couple of months, his eighth and ninth attorneys filed motions asking to be removed from the case due to conflicts of interest. 

After Borello had some time to look over the motions, he said the law is very clear when it comes to potential conflicts of interest and removed Tillis’ first chair attorney, Michael Bossen, and second chair attorney, Nicole Jamieson, from the case.

Bossen explained in his motion to withdraw that he had been appointed in a new case and after speaking with his new, unnamed client, he determined there would be a conflict of interest if he kept representing Tillis. Jamieson echoed that sentiment in a separate motion she filed. 

Bossen and Tillis have had a strained relationship, and last week, Tillis filed a motion asking for a Nelson hearing to allow Bossen to be removed from the case. In that motion, Tillis lamented that Bossen and Jamieson had failed to depose multiple witnesses, including two whose testimony is time sensitive. 

Tillis also referred to Bossen as a “slimy little lying coward” who has “succumbed to the dictatorship” of Judge Borello. 

Tillis' new attorney was in court Wednesday but the two have not had a chance to speak yet. They are due back in court in two weeks.

This wasn't the first time Bossen tried to withdraw from the case. In October, Borello allowed Bossen to withdraw. Tillis represented himself for a couple of weeks, then changed his mind, and Bossen was reappointed as lead counsel. 

Last summer, Tillis complained about his former attorney James Hernandez, who was also removed from the case. 

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