Court lets murder suspect use dead wife's insurance policy to pay for his defense

A Denver murder suspect was allowed to use his dead wife's insurance policy to hire a private attorney, KDVR reports.

Last month, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Robert Feldman, 55, had the right to hire a private law firm to represent him, since the firm itself was an independent third party that had been legally paid before a lower court tried to freeze the funds.

Feldman was charged with first-degree murder in 2018, after his wife, Stacy, was found dead in their shower, in 2015. Police said Feldman strangled his wife after she confronted him about an extramarital affair. He then allegedly staged her death to make it appear that she slipped and fell.

After he was charged, Feldman allegedly took $550,000 out of his wife's $751,000 life-insurance policy to pay David Kaplan's law firm. Stacy's family, however, sued in Denver's probate court, arguing that Colorado's slayer statute prevents murderers from profiting from their crimes in any form.

When the probate court ruled against Feldman, he was forced to have a public defender represent him. He later appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled that Stacy's family had acted too late.

"The Probate Court, according to the Supreme Court, can't freeze the money already given to a third party," criminal defense attorney Dan Recht explained to KDVR. "If Robert Feldman had the money in his account, Probate Court did have jurisdiction to freeze that money but it was already with the law firm."

Recht added that Kaplan's firm was also not wrong to accept the money.

"Let's say the killer takes the proceeds of an insurance policy and buys a car," Recht said. "[The] car dealership doesn't know anything is wrong, they haven't done anything wrong. They just received money and gave somebody a car. Well, should they have to give the money back if he's (Feldman) found guilty of murder? Arguably not."

Still, Colorado Rep. Jonathan Singer said he found the Supreme Court's ruling troubling.

"We need to go back to the legislature next year and revisit this and reopen those books and look at the real intent of this [Colorado Slayer Statute], which was to make sure that killers never profit from their victims," he said.

Feldman's arraignment has been set for October, and his trial will start in April 2020.

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