Capital murder defendant granted taxpayer dollars for clothes - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Lubbock Co. capital murder defendant granted taxpayer dollars for clothes

Brian Suniga, 34 (Source: Lubbock County Detention Center) Brian Suniga, 34 (Source: Lubbock County Detention Center)

A Lubbock man soon to be on trial for capital murder has requested money for new clothes to wear in court.

Brian Suniga, 34, is behind bars at the Lubbock County Detention Center with a bond set at $1 million.

He is charged with the murder of 26-year-old David Rowser. Rowser was killed back in 2011, when police said Suniga and another man robbed the One Guy from Italy restaurant at 50th and Quaker. Police said Rowser suffered a gunshot wound to the chest.

Since Suniga is considered indigent, the presiding judge granted his request for a clothing allowance.

"What would be your perception if you saw a couple of deputies bringing a person over that was shackled and in jail clothes? I think the average person is going to go, 'that person is dangerous,'" said Director of Regional Public Defenders for Capital Cases Jeff Stoffregen.

Stoffregen said that perception is not something defense attorneys want to risk.

Court documents state that since the court has found Suniga indigent, and since he has been incarcerated since his arrest, he has no access to appropriate clothing attire, and "cannot be expected to wear the same clothes every day and counsel cannot be expected to wash them for him or make arrangements to do so," especially since the trial is anticipated to last more than six weeks.

Suniga's attorney requested he have up to $300 for slacks, shirts, a tie, socks and a pair of shoes - a clothing allowance funded by the "general fund, taxpayers," said Dean Stanzione, Director of Court Administration for Lubbock County.

So, how many times have taxpayers contributed to a defendant's clothing fund?

"This would be the first time it's happened in at least two years," Stanzione said.

He said a closet in the courthouse is filled with donated clothes that defendants can borrow, so why does Suniga get $300?

"My understanding for this particular case is because of the length of the trial, because this is a capital murder case, it's going to last. It's one of those that is going to last several days if not a few weeks. And because of that, there is going to be a greater need for clothing over time rather than the same item of clothing every single day," Stanzione explained.

He said the court has had quite a few donations recently that they haven't had time to sort through until now, another reason why Stanzione said Suniga's attorney asked for the money.

"Because of the latest issue, or the latest order in finding clothing, we've started going through that process so we are on top of things if anything comes up again," Stanzione said.

Stanzione said once Suniga is finished with the clothes, they will be donated to the clothing closet at the courthouse.

If you would like to make a donation, you are asked to contact the administrative offices of the courts. That number is (806) 775-1019.

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