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Texas Torture Suspect Denied Court-Appointed Lawyer

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Jeffrey Allan Maxwell (credit: Navarro County Jail)

Jeffrey Allan Maxwell (credit: Navarro County Jail)

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WEATHERFORD (AP) – A Texas judge on Monday denied a request for a court-appointed attorney by a man accused of torturing a woman for nearly two weeks on a device used for skinning deer.

State District Judge Trey Loftin said during Jeffrey Allan Maxwell’s initial court appearance in the case that the man was not indigent because he has several homes, other properties and automobiles, for a net worth of about $200,000.

Maxwell, who stood before the judge dressed in jeans, a shirt and tennis shoes while handcuffed, answered “yes” when the judge asked him about information in his application for a court-appointed attorney and if he understood that his request was being denied.

“I realize you’ve looked at my assets, but I can’t touch it … except my house,” Maxwell said, adding even that would be difficult.

Authorities say Maxwell, 58, abducted his former neighbor from her Parker County home March 1 and drove some 100 miles to his Corsicana house. He was arrested there after authorities tracked him down March 12.

Although the charges were not formally read in court, the judge told Maxwell that he faces serious charges — one count of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated sexual assault — and said all were first-degree felonies with a punishment range of 5 to 99 years in prison.

“I want you to understand how important it is for you to hire a good attorney,” Loftin told Maxwell. “Just because you can represent yourself doesn’t mean that’s a good idea, does it?”

Maxwell answered, “No.”

Maxwell has declined interview requests by The Associated Press and other media agencies, and he made no indication in court Monday whether he planned to represent himself.

He later told the judge that he has not tried contacting an attorney because of limitations being behind bars. Loftin then said he would make sure Maxwell would be able to call attorneys from jail, where he’s being held on $400,000 bond.

Also Monday, prosecutors charged Maxwell with arson in connection with the case.  Police say after he abducted the woman he went back to her house and set it on fire to destroy evidence.

The next step is presenting the case to a grand jury in the hopes of getting an indictment so Maxwell can go to trial, said prosecutor Jeff Swain.

Maxwell is being investigated in three cold cases of missing women in different Texas cities.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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