The lead attorney defending Pine Bluff murder suspect Tacori D. Mackrell is asking a circuit judge to re-schedule the 19-year-old’s death trial.

Tacori D. Mackrell, 19, was 18 years old when he and his cousin, Robert L. Smith III, who was 16 years old at the time, allegedly abducted 72-year-old Elvia Fragstein while she was shopping in the Conway Commons. Both Pine Bluff teens have been charged as adults with capital murder, kidnapping, robbery and theft of property following Fragstein’s brutal July 2018 strangulation death.

On Monday, a three-day motion hearing was scheduled to begin Sept. 3. to continue testimony regarding the suppression of evidence and introduce testimony regarding the defense’s request to move Mackrell’s case to another court.

After the continued hearing was scheduled Monday morning, attorney William “Bill” James Jr. filed a motion requesting the other defense attorney assigned to the case, Bobby R. Digby II, be removed from the case. In removing Digby from the case, James said he would need time to get a new second-chair attorney up to speed.

In his motion for continuance, James argues that “the relationship between [he] and [Digby] is such that they can no longer work together.” However, in a counter argument to James’ motion for continuance, Digby said he felt comfortable remaining as the secondary counsel and that it was unnecessary to delay the case.

“This case has been moving for trial for several months and no rational reason exists for it not to be ready to be tried on the scheduled date,” Digby’s response reads in part.

Digby has been heavily involved in the case and said he “has no problem working with James in representing [Mackrell].”

Following the two motions filed separately on Monday by the defense counsel, a hearing to address the motion to continue will be held Thursday morning in Faulkner County Circuit Court.

Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached at