Sarah Hartsfield to keep court-appointed attorney despite attempt to fire him on murder case

Sarah Hartsfield was indicted for murder after her fifth husband died in a Baytown hospital in January.

A hearing in the Sarah Hartsfield murder case was held in Chambers County Monday afternoon but she did not appear in person and much of the hearing was behind closed doors.

A grand jury indicted Hartsfield for murder in February, a couple of weeks after her husband of 11 months, Joseph Hartsfield, died at Houston Methodist Baytown hospital due to “complications of toxic effects of insulin,” according to the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office. The manner is undetermined.

SEE ALSO: Sarah Hartsfield murder case: Husband died of insulin complications, medical examiner rules

The jail is only a couple blocks from the courtroom but Sarah Hartsfield, 48, stayed at the jail and joined via videoconference while everyone else appeared in person. Much of the time, she spoke to her court-appointed attorney privately via videoconference, separate from the courtroom.

Chambers County District Attorney Cheryl Lieck Henry, the county’s top prosecutor, revealed in court that the Sarah Hartsfield case already has 40 supplemental reports with additional evidence, with about the same number of discs full of evidence.

Typically, the sheriff’s office doesn’t turn over evidence to the defense for discovery until an investigation is complete, but Lieck Henry said she has requested the investigators share everything they have so far and continue working on it.

“She’s under indictment, which means an investigation should have already been done and completed,” Hartsfield’s court-appointed attorney Keaton Kirkwood said.

The hearing was to decide on requests filed last week by her to fire him, and by him to withdraw from the case, but after discussion between the two behind closed doors, they appeared to settle their differences.

SEE ALSO: Witnesses testify before grand jury in Sarah Hartsfield murder case

Kirkwood will remain Hartsfield’s defense attorney going forward.

She told the judge she is fine with keeping him as her attorney, as long as there’s “forward momentum” in the case.

“Sarah’s in a position where she’s never had to endure this type of treatment as far as being incarcerated, things of that nature. And unfortunately, the wheels of justice don’t travel as far as fast as we want them to,” Kirkwood said. “My issue with her was that I didn’t want her speaking with the media.”

According to the motion Kirkwood filed, there was a conflict of interest that couldn’t be resolved and she was unwilling to take his legal advice.

Kirkwood said he plans to speak with Hartsfield in hopes that she will stop talking to the media, or find a middle ground to ensure nothing gets out that shouldn’t.

She sent dozens of messages to KPRC 2 maintaining her innocence, insisting that her story and her truth will have her walking out of the jail, free of false accusations and character assassination, and railing against coverage of the case.

SEE ALSO: ‘Show things in a positive light for me’: Sarah Hartsfield responds after seeing KPRC 2 story from jail

Hartsfield also wrote a letter to the judge last week asking for Kirkwood to be removed.

“When I initially met Mr. Kirkwood, he said my case was defensible, reasonable doubt was there without question,” Hartsfield wrote. “My greatest issue is that Mr. Kirkwood is willing to drag this out for years, knowing I’ll have lost everything, will have nowhere to go when all is said and done, THEN will file a lawsuit.”

Kirkwood called the evidence against Hartsfield “circumstantial.”

“In my opinion, their case has diminished as far as reasonable doubt goes,” he said.

Last week, only KPRC 2′s cameras captured Hartsfield’s oldest daughter and an emergency room doctor walking into the Chambers County courthouse to testify before the same grand jury that indicted Hartsfield in February.

Lieck Henry said the state just received medical records last week.

Motions for bond reduction filed by both Hartsfield and her attorney were not discussed Monday. Another court date is set for May 22 when Judge Chap B. Cain will consider a second request for bond reduction and a motion for discovery. He already reduced her bond by $500,000 on March 1.

Hartsfield remains behind bars on what her attorney calls an “oppressive” $4.5 million bond.

About the Author:

Bryce Newberry joined KPRC 2 in July 2022. He loves the thrill of breaking news and digging deep on a story that gets people talking.