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Investigators: Kauffman buried behind Pop N Cork for 27 days
Carson Frank
Frank Carson - photo by Contributed to the Courier

New details of what the District Attorney believes happened the night Korey Kauffman was murdered emerged this morning as five of the individuals arrested in connection with the 2012 Turlock man's death were arraigned in Stanislaus County Superior Court.

Defense attorney Frank Carson, his wife Georgia DeFilippo, Pop N Cork owners Baljit Athwal and Daljit Athwal, both of Ceres, and Walter Wells, a former California Highway Patrol officer are all charged with murder of the 26-year-old Turlock resident Kauffman.

Robert Lee Woody, who was not present at Tuesday's arraignment, is also charged with Kauffman's murder.

Investigators believe Kauffman was beat up and then shot in the back before being buried behind the Pop N Cork liquor store on East Avenue in Turlock sometime between March 30, 2012 and March 31, 2012. Kauffman's remains are believed to have been buried behind the Turlock store for 27 days before being moved to the Stanislaus National Forest in Mariposa, where they were discovered in August 2013 by three hunters.

Deputy District Attorney Marlisa Ferreira told the court on Tuesday the district attorney's office will not seek the death penalty in this case. The murder charges carry a special allegation that the defendants committed the murder while lying in wait, which made them eligible for the death penalty.

The State Bar of California filed a lawsuit in Stanislaus County on Friday seeking to take control of Frank Carson's law practice.

The State Bar stated the lawsuit had to be filed because of Carson's incarceration and his intention to continue representing clients, even from behind bars.

According to the lawsuit, Carson has hired attorneys Ryan Roth and John Hillenbrand on an interim basis to help him represent his clients. It's unknown if any of Carson's clients have given consent to have the two attorneys represent them. In the lawsuit the State Bar expresses concern Carson and his hired attorneys will seek out the consent of his clients to continue their representation and that could prove a disservice to the clients.

The lawsuit states that because of Carson's incarceration he has "become incapable of devoting the time and attention to and providing the quality of service for his law practice that is necessary to protect the interests of (his) clients."

Carson is currently being held at the Stanislaus County Jail on multiple felony charges, including first-degree murder for the death of 26-year-old Turlock resident Korey Kauffman. He, along with seven others charged in the case, was taken into custody Aug. 14. He has an arraignment scheduled for Tuesday in Stanislaus County Superior Court. He is currently being held without bail.

The State Bar wants Stanislaus County Superior Court to assume jurisdiction over his law practice and appoint the State Bar and its designees to take possession of his client files and perform other duties for his clients as needed.

Carson has at least 71 criminal cases pending in Stanislaus County and has cases in other neighboring counties. The lawsuit alleges Carson's clients would be "prejudiced against" if he is allowed to continue representing them.

In the lawsuit, the State Bar requests the court allow them to enter Carson's law office in Modesto and his Turlock residence, accompanied by law enforcement and a locksmith, and take possession of all his files related to pending legal matters. They also request they be given all passwords for any computers at his office and home and make copies of all the legal files on them. If the application is granted, then the State Bar would retain custody of all the legal files unless the client requests they be distributed to another party.

The State Bar said they would notify all of Carson's clients and "inform them that it may be in their best interest to obtain other legal counsel."

The State Bar also requests the court allow them to freeze Carson's client trust account and his general operating account for his law office.

If any of Carson's clients are unable to obtain other legal counsel, then with their consent, the State Bar would file any notices, motions and other pleading on their behalf, as well as apply for any extensions of time as needed.

The lawsuit requests that all mail to Carson's law office be redirected to them and that they be allowed to open and examine all the mail. They also are seeking permission to open any locked storage container at Carson's office and home that is "reasonably believed to contain law office records or files."