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Judge: Appointed attorney stays put
Graf Trial 6 es
Pam Graf listens to testimony with her attorney Parker McFarland. On Thursday, Judge Jeffrey Bagley denied Graf's request for a new attorney. - photo by Emily Saunders


* Testimony shifts over to drugs.

A Forsyth County Superior Court judge denied Pamela Morrow Graf’s request to remove her appointed attorney from her trial on arson and drug charges.

The jury was not present Thursday morning during the discussion, which ended with Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley rejecting Graf’s claim against Parker McFarland.

“He’s your lawyer and he’s a seasoned trial counsel and he can make these calls on trial strategy,” Bagley said. “He knows what he’s doing.”

Graf contended that McFarland does not, questioning his preparation and saying he hadn’t discussed the case with her.

“I don’t feel that I’m being represented to the best I can be,” Graf said.

Furthermore, she said, McFarland has refused to interview her ex-boyfriend, Steven Edward Strobel, who was convicted of arson last week in the
Jan. 18, 2009, blaze that destroyed her Lanier Drive home.

During Strobel’s trial, he implicated Graf in the fire, saying he had a role in it.

Graf said Thursday that McFarland was unwilling to call Strobel and her three children as witnesses in her defense.

“I’ve been in jail 14 months because Steven Strobel said I burned my house down,” she said.

She maintained she and McFarland weren’t prepared and that she didn’t know what witnesses they would call.

Graf said there are “multiple reasons for doing what I did” and feels as if she’s “being thrown under the train for a second time.”

She contended that she hadn’t received any of the evidence collected in the case or transcripts of Strobel’s interviews with authorities.

“I could do this work for Parker,” she said. “I’ve got witnesses in South Carolina, I’ve got a witness in Commerce. I don’t think they’re going to drive here.”

Despite his instructions not to read, listen or watch news, Graf told Bagley that jurors wouldn’t be able to avoid reading articles about her trial.

She also said she had been taking notes during the trial and come up with questions for McFarland to ask.

For his part, McFarland said he has met with Graf several times since last week.

“I am prepared to try this case,” he said. “I’ve specifically asked for anything she wanted to give me.”

Noting that he wasn’t appointed to the case until “six months after the fact,” McFarland said he didn’t think it would be wise for Strobel to testify because he had “credibility issues.”

He also disagreed with Graf’s theory that allowing the jury to know she is in jail would make them sympathetic to her and said it could cause a mistrial.

Graf has appeared in court in casual clothing and without handcuffs. She has also been escorted in and out of the courtroom before the jury entered and after they left.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Sandy Partridge said she does not plan to put Strobel on the stand.

“To say Mr. McFarland is unprepared is ridiculous,” Partridge said. “It’s a Hail Mary pass. We’re in the middle of a trial and we’re ready to go.”