Defense attorney files motion to withdraw from representing Seth Sutton in murder-for-hire retrial

Judge rules a mistrial in Seth Sutton murder-for-hire plot case.
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 6:41 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The lawyer for attorney and former motorcycle club president Seth Sutton is seeking to withdraw from representing Sutton at his upcoming murder-for-hire retrial because he says Sutton can’t pay him.

Visiting Judge Roy Sparkman, who presided over Sutton’s first trial in August, has scheduled a hearing for Dec. 6 to consider the motion to withdraw from Dallas attorney Clint Broden.

Sutton, the former Waco attorney who has since moved to Houston, is charged with trying to hire an undercover Waco police officer who infiltrated Sutton’s motorcycle club to kill attorney Marcus Beaudin, who is charged with sexually abusing a Sutton family member when she was 14.

Sutton’s trial ended in mistrial after the jury deadlocked 9-3 in favor of convicting Sutton following 12 hours of deliberations. After special prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office announced their intentions to retry Sutton, Sparkman scheduled Sutton’s second trial to begin Feb. 12.

Broden’s motion said his agreement with Sutton required payment of additional attorney’s fees for any retrials or appeals. Sutton told Broden that while he is trying to sell his home in Waco, he is “unable to retain counsel in connection with a retrial of this matter.”

“This is a complex case, and undersigned counsel does not reside nor office in the McLennan County area,” Broden’s motion states. “It would be a tremendous burden for undersigned counsel to represent Mr. Sutton at his retrial with no imminent prospects of being paid.”

Sutton said via text message that he does not intend to represent himself, although he attempted a hybrid defense during his first trial, asking Sparkman if he could assist Broden and sit second chair as defense counsel. Sparkman rejected that request, saying Sutton could either represent himself or be represented by Broden, but not both.

“During my first trial, prosecutors talked about the vast amount of money and resources the State of Texas had spent on my prosecution,” Sutton said in a statement. “In addition to months of preparation, the AG’s Office paid to send two lawyers, two staffers and at least two investigators to Waco for a weeklong trial.

“There is simply no limit to what the state can spend. They can try my case over and over again if they want to. They’re dealing with Monopoly money, but for my family, it’s actual dollars. And I’m not special here. Every criminal defendant faces this same imbalance,” he said.

Broden said in a statement that he was honored that Sutton chose him as his trial attorney.

“It is regrettable that the state decided to double down to continue this prosecution after the first jury heard the undercover agent admit that he had gone rogue and admit that he instigated each and every encounter that formed the basis for the state’s case,” Broden said.

“Unfortunately, the practice of law is a business, and as much as I believe in Seth’s case and find the behavior of the undercover officer to be utterly reprehensible, I am not in a financial position to continue my representation of Seth at this time. In light of that and with Seth’s blessing, I filed a motion to withdraw with the court.”

Assistant Attorney General Matt Shawhan and Josh Somers are prosecuting Sutton in the retrial. The AG’s Office agreed to handle the case after McLennan County District Attorney Josh Tetens recused his office from the case. Sparkman is presiding because19th State District Judge Thomas West also recused himself.

The Waco undercover officer testified at Sutton’s first trial that he infiltrated Sutton’s Waco-based Red Mouse Cult motorcycle club because he thought it would be a good opportunity to gain intelligence on criminal street gangs, such as the Bandidos.

He befriended Sutton and was made a member of the motorcycle group when he testified that Sutton approached him about killing Beaudin.

He said Sutton envisioned at least three scenarios in which Beaudin could be killed and included Beaudin’s ex-wife, Chelsea Tijerina, in the plans. Tijerina, indicted as Sutton’s co-defendant, was killed in a motorcycle accident in Williamson County.

The detective recorded several conversations with Sutton, including one in which Sutton gave him $300 to buy an untraceable gun and discussed alibis for them.

At trial, Broden characterized the detective as an overzealous officer who defied his supervisors’ orders to shut down the undercover investigation and who improperly entrapped Sutton by fueling his emotions over the girl’s alleged abuse.