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David Lewis Murder Suspect Wants New Attorney

Gregory Elarms, the suspect in the June 2010 murder of David Lewis outside Hillsdale Shopping Center, told a judge Tuesday he wants a new court-appointed attorney.

The suspect in the murder of East Palo Alto community activist David Lewis on Tuesday asked a judge for a new court-appointed attorney, after his current attorney said he planned to contest that his client's competency had been restored.

Gregory Elarms, 59, appeared in San Mateo County Superior Court on Tuesday morning for his arraignment on the grand jury indictment in connection with the June 9, 2010, murder of his longtime friend David Lewis, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Instead of entering a plea, though, Elarms' attorney Jonathan McDougall -- his second attorney in this case -- told Judge Mark Forcum he planned to contest the court's finding that Elarms was for the murder.

That motion was scheduled to be presented in court on Aug. 20.

Elarms was previously found incompetent and was ordered to be placed in a state mental hospital in July 2011, but in May two doctors determined Elarms' , and trial proceedings resumed.

But following his attorney's statement, Elarms told the court he wanted a new lawyer, and the judge set a hearing for that motion on July 20.

Elarms is suspected of following Lewis from the San Mateo Medical Center to Hillsdale Shopping Center and shooting him once in the stomach with a .44-caliber handgun outside his car on June 9, 2010, prosecutors said.

About six months after the crime, Elarms contacted San Mateo investigators claiming to have a tip about the unsolved case.

As he was being questioned, Elarms allegedly confessed to killing Lewis, even describing the shocked look on Lewis' face after he shot him, San Mateo police Detective Rick Decker testified at Elarms' preliminary hearing.

Elarms was charged with murder, discharging a gun in the course of murder, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and the special circumstance of lying in wait, which could make him eligible for the death penalty.

Wagstaffe on Tuesday said the district attorney's office does not plan to seek the death penalty in this case.

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