SOMERSET, Ky. – A defense attorney well known in his small, southern Kentucky town was shot and killed outside of his law office early Friday by a man who wanted his help but was turned down, according to police reports.
Mark Stanziano, 57, was just arriving at his downtown office about 8 a.m. when a man who lives in an apartment across the street approached him with a handgun and wordlessly shot him at least four times, police said in statements, phone interviews and a citation after speaking with several witnesses.
One of the witnesses was a Pulaski County sheriff, who arrested Clinton D. Inabnitt, 40, of Somerset, police said. Inabnitt is charged with murder.
Inabnitt told officers that he shot Stanziano because the attorney declined to help him with a problem and laughed at him Thursday night, according to the police citation.
"Inabnitt approached from across the street and started firing," Somerset Police Department spokesman Shannon Smith said. "There was no immediate dialogue between the two of them. There was no verbal confrontation. He just started firing."
Smith declined to describe the problem Inabnitt brought to Stanziano, but said the attorney wouldn't have been able to help him with it.
Stanziano has been involved in several multiple high-profile murder cases. At the time of the shooting he was representing Kenneth Allen Keith, a local pastor charged with the murder of three people in Danville last year.
Somerset is a town of 11,000 in Pulaski County, where in 2002 former Pulaski County Sheriff Samuel Catron was shot and killed at a political rally. Stanziano represented the man charged with the murder.
Jeff Hoover, a defense attorney in nearby Jamestown and the Kentucky House minority floor leader, said he that when he heard of the shooting, he had "a sick feeling in my stomach."
"It just was numb and it makes you just stop and think about people that you represent and situations that you find yourself in sometimes," he told The Associated Press. "Mark did a lot of very high-profile, high-publicity criminal defense cases. Anytime you do criminal defense cases sometimes you are concerned about things like that."
Stanziano had 30 years' experience in criminal cases, was a published author and had spoken at the national level, according to a biography on his law practice's website.