The arraignment for a man accused of killing his young daughter inside a Bywater house last year has been delayed yet again by budget constraints on public defenders.

For the fourth time, Mark Hambrick did not enter a plea during a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in front of Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Robin Pittman.

Pittman set an Aug. 27 hearing to make another attempt at arraigning Hambrick.

Defense attorney Cormac Boyle of the Capital Appeals Project said that Hambrick is still on a waiting list to receive full representation from the state's Public Defender Board. The board says that budget cuts from the state have forced it to place defendants facing capital charges on a waiting list.

The Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office secured Hambrick's indictment on a first-degree murder charge earlier this year, leaving open the possibility that it will seek the death penalty. That means that Hambrick must be represented by a team of two attorneys and two investigators — requiring money and personnel the state Public Defender Board says it does not have available at the moment.

Family members have expressed fears that a capital prosecution, with the death penalty a possibility, would lead to years of court hearings. Second-degree murder cases often can proceed more swiftly.

Prosecutors with the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office have questioned why attorneys for Hambrick cannot at least enter a plea on his behalf, a standard first step in criminal proceedings.

Police say that Hambrick, then 45, stabbed his 18-month-old daughter Amina, then let her bleed for hours before he finally suffocated her on the morning of Oct. 17. He then called police. 

When officers arrived, Hambrick told them that “God told him to murder his child so the state of Louisiana can kill him so he can be resurrected," according to a warrant.

Hambrick’s bizarre behavior has led to much speculation about his mental health. However, his current attorneys say that because of state budget cuts, they are representing him only for the limited purpose of maintaining his constitutional rights, and thus cannot ask the court to investigate his mental state.

“The only thing that makes sense is that Mark had some cataclysmic psychotic event,” Hambrick’s wife, Monika Gerhart-Hambrick, told The Advocate in a recent interview.

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