U.S. suspect held in Aruba hires new lead attorney PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 14 October 2011 18:47
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A Maryland man being held in Aruba in the disappearance of an American woman there has retained criminal defense attorney Chris Lejuez, the attorney said Friday.

He takes over as lead defense attorney after spending two days in lengthy meetings with Gary Giordano, 50, at the prison in Aruba where Giordano is confined, Lejuez said.

Giordano, who is being held in connection with the disappearance of traveling companion Robyn Gardner, 35, was taken into custody August 5 at the airport in Aruba as he waited for a flight back to the United States. He has been held for 70 days.

Giordano has maintained the pair went snorkeling behind the Nanki Country Club on the southern end of the island and that Gardner vanished in the water as he returned to shore. Authorities say Giordano was the beneficiary of a $1.5 million accidental death insurance policy on Gardner, taken out just days before their trip.

Lejuez said Giordano has never changed his account of what happened; instead, it is the police who come at Giordano with different theories as to what might have happened.

Even after all of their investigating, authorities "cannot prove that a crime has been committed," Lejuez said.

He said that as he's being held in prison, Giordano is simply trying to "hold it together," and "feels boxed in, accused of something he did not do."

At one point in their conversation, Lejuez said, his client "broke down in tears" of frustration.

He will be working with Giordano's U.S.-based attorney, Jose Baez.

Earlier this week, Giordano's other attorney, Michael Lopez, filed a petition arguing for the immediate release of the 50-year-old Maryland man. A hearing will be held Monday morning. It could not be ascertained Friday whether Giordano will be present.

Lejuez, who has 17 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney on the island, represented two Aruban security guards who were arrested early in the Natalee Holloway case in 2005 and subsequently released. The guards had been implicated by Joran van der Sloot, who said he saw a security guard approach Holloway after he dropped her off at her hotel the night she vanished.

Holloway's disappearance remains unsolved. Van der Sloot was arrested but never charged in connection with the disappearance, although he has faced other legal problems since then.

Lejuez bristled at any suggestion of similarity between the Gardner case and the Holloway case.

"You had a suspect that kept changing his story," Lejuez said of van der Sloot. "In this case, (Giordano's) story has been the same."

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