BLOOMINGTON — An East Peoria man charged with kidnapping and murdering a man in 2016 is starting over with a new lawyer after he agreed Friday to allow his attorney to withdraw from the case.
Danny Smith, 29, is accused of kidnapping Maunds Bryant and Bryant's stepfather from their home in north Normal in December 2016. Smith allegedly demanded a ransom before taking the two men to a home n East Peoria.
Maunds Bryant, 41, suffered a head injury in a fall at his home after Smith forced his way into the residence, according to police. He died the following day at a Peoria hospital where he was taken after his stepfather managed to escape from the home and summon help.
For the second time this month, defense lawyer Gary Morris asked to withdraw as Smith's attorney. At a Feb. 9 hearing, Judge Robert Freitag refused the request because Smith said he wanted to keep Morris as his lawyer despite the fact that he'd filed a complaint against Morris with the state Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.
Smith told the judge Friday that he had no objection to Morris withdrawing, and asked that a public defender be appointed to represent him.
The replacement of Morris more than a year after charges were filed is likely to delay a scheduled May 7 jury trial on murder and other felony charges against Smith.
Smith complained at a previous hearing that he was unsatisfied with Morris' efforts on his behalf.
Smith also faces kidnapping charges in Peoria County related to the incident.
A March 29 hearing is set in McLean County.