PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A paroled killer charged with murdering two disabled adults in a Social Security fraud scheme has been assigned a new lawyer with death-penalty experience.
Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia may seek the death penalty against 52-year-old Linda Weston. She's the accused ringleader of a group charged with kidnapping mentally disabled adults, keeping them in squalor, starving them, beating them and taking their government checks.
Weston made a brief federal court appearance Monday, the same day related state charges were dropped. She is due back in court Thursday.
Defense lawyer George Yacoubian (yuh-KOH'-be-uhn) has represented her in the state case. He calls the federal charges overblown.
Yacoubian says local authorities in Philadelphia and Virginia investigated the deaths without filing murder charges.
Death-penalty lawyer Patricia McKinney now represents Weston in the federal case.