Despite what his lead attorney said last month, a former Baton Rouge automobile dealer accused of paying several men to kill his ex-wife in 2015 insists that a rift with his lawyers hasn't been resolved and never will be.

“No mending is possible,” Hamid Ghassemi wrote in a motion filed May 13 that seeks to rescind his contract with prominent Baton Rouge lawyers Tommy Damico and Brent Stockstill and have them refund 90% of the $115,000 he paid them for their legal representation.

That motion came two months after the 69-year-old Ghassemi, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Taherah Ghassemi, filed an emergency motion March 13 stating his desire to fire his attorneys and have a judge order them to return 90% of the money he paid them.

Ghassemi has accused Damico and Stockstill of providing ineffective representation.

Damico told The Advocate last month that Ghassemi was upset with court rulings that had not gone his way but that the rift had apparently been mended, saying, "I think that things have resolved themselves."

Ghassemi attached to his latest motion an article published in The Advocate on April 10, which contained Damico's comments and bore the headline, "Auto dealer, lawyers resolve defense dispute."

Ghassemi claims in the motion that Damico "falsified reports to the court and public."

"Tommy Damico did not speak with claimant, our situation has not been mended nor will be mended ever," he wrote, adding later in the motion that "no mending is possible."

Damico said Thursday he "assumed everything was resolved" when he spoke last month with a reporter for The Advocate.

"He and I have talked in the time he was upset. I'll have another conversation with him," Damico stated.

Damico said he had not seen his client's latest court filing. When informed of what it alleged, he replied, "I'm just not going to continue this back and forth. He changes like the wind."

A motion hearing is scheduled in the case for June 18.

Ghassemi, who is slated to stand trial in September, says he paid the lawyers a combined $115,000 to represent him in the criminal case and in a lawsuit filed by his son over the death of his mother.

Taherah Ghassemi, 54, disappeared April 11, 2015, from her Baton Rouge home. Her body was not recovered until May 16 of that year in a wooded area in rural St. Helena Parish. She had been shot in the head.

Hamid Ghassemi, who owned Import One and Import One Elite on Airline Highway at the time of his former wife's death, had paid her $1 million in a divorce settlement. He's accused of paying $10,000 to have her killed.

Prosecutors have alleged that Ghassemi also wanted his son killed.

Two of Ghassemi's alleged accomplices — Daniel Humberto Richter, 38, of Walker, and Tyler Lee Ashpaugh, 25, of Denham Springs — have admitted their roles in the slaying.

Richter, who once worked for Hamid Ghassemi, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and second-degree kidnapping in return for a future 50-year prison term. He admitted taking part in Taherah Ghassemi's abduction and slaying, and said he buried her body.

Ashpaugh pleaded guilty to manslaughter in exchange for a future 40-year prison sentence. He admitted shooting the victim in the head but claimed she was already dead when he shot her.

A forensic pathologist has said Taherah Ghassemi was still alive but likely unconscious when she was shot, according to previously filed court records.

A third alleged accomplice, Skyler Williams, 22, of Denham Springs, is charged with first-degree murder in the case and faces a possible life sentence without parole if found guilty on that charge. He was 17 when Taherah Ghassemi was killed.

Prosecutors aren't pursuing the death penalty against Hamid Ghassemi. He would be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.