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Attorney for man indicted in 2018 Madison County cartel-linked beheading seeks to withdraw

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. -- One of two men charged in a 2018 cartel-linked double murder in Madison County appears to be losing one of their lawyers.

Isreal Palomino's counsel, Ron Smith, notified the court Tuesday he has to withdraw from the case due to a conflict of interest. Smith said he couldn't disclose the conflict.

Palomino and Yoni Aguilar are both facing a possible death sentence for the murders of Oralia Mendoza and her 13-year-old granddaughter, Mariah Lopez. A grand jury indicted them on capital murder charges in late October.

Oralia Mendoza (left) Mariah Feit Lopez (right) Courtesy: Madison County Sheriff’s Office

Investigators said Mendoza was linked to the Sinaloa drug cartel. A reported dispute with Palomino led to the woman and her granddaughter being taken to Moon Cemetery in Madison County and killed. The investigator said Mariah was beheaded.

The judge now has to decide whether or not to take Smith's withdrawal from the case. Nick Heatherly is Smith's co-counsel, but if Smith is withdrawn from the case, a new second attorney will almost certainly be appointed for Palomino since it is a death penalty case. That could also delay the setting of a trial date.

Palomino is currently slated to go on trial in December for trafficking methamphetamines.

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