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County OKs murder case 'insurance'

May 24, 2011

Howard County commissioners approved a contract with Lubbock County Monday morning that would serve as a type of “insurance policy.”

The annual contract — which costs the county approximately $14,000 — secures Howard County a regional public defender necessary to try a capital murder case.

According to County Judge Mark Barr, the county has participated in the program during the past three years, and while $14,000 certainly isn't loose change, it's a pittance compared to what a capital murder case could cost the county.

“It's basically an insurance policy for counties,” Barr said. “For an attorney to try a capital case, they have to have special certification, and there aren't many attorneys in this area with that training. On average, a capital case can cost anywhere from $300,000 to $1 million, so I feel like this contract is well worth it.”

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