A former Baton Rouge assistant principal accused of killing a pregnant colleague and their unborn child in 2016 has been given two months to hire another lawyer after his original attorney was suspended by the state's highest court.
Robert Jovantie Marks, 41, of Zachary, was scheduled to stand trial Monday on second-degree murder and first-degree feticide charges in the slaying of 40-year-old Lyntell Washington, but the trial was delayed.
Three months ago, the Louisiana Supreme Court suspended Marks' attorney, New Orleans lawyer Lionel "Lon" Burns, for one year. The court said Burns violated duties owed to the legal profession by sending a paralegal to stand in for him at a court hearing in an unrelated case and then giving misleading testimony about it after the fact.
State District Judge Beau Higginbotham, who is presiding over Marks' case, said Monday he understands that Marks wants to hire another lawyer, so the judge gave him until Oct. 4 to do so. Marks said outside the courtroom he was not ready to say who his new attorney will be.
Marks was assistant principal at Brookstown Middle Magnet School when Washington, an instructional specialist at the school, disappeared. She was seven months pregnant. Her body was found June 14, 2016, in an Iberville Parish field. She had been shot in the head.
Washington’s car and her 3-year-old daughter, who was wandering near it, were discovered five days earlier on Newcastle Avenue in Baton Rouge. The car was spattered with blood. The girl told investigators she was with her mother and “Mr. Robbie” when she heard a loud bang and saw “Mr. Robbie” trying to clean up blood, a police report states.
Police have speculated that Marks, who is married, did not want anyone to know Washington was pregnant with his child.
Washington asked Marks in a text message if he was trying to avoid responsibility for “our unborn child,” according to a police affidavit.
Marks is free on bail and has said he had “nothing to do with” Washington's killing.
He was fired in October 2016 shortly after an East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury indicted him.