TWIN FALLS • A man accused of holding a fraudulent fundraiser to help his daughter who he and his wife said had cancer left the courtroom in a fit of anger Monday during a pretrial hearing, but not before shouting at the judge and almost striking his lawyer with a cane.
Michael Wayne Holley, 54, and Lisa Holley, 44, of Buhl were both accused in October of holding the fundraiser and charged with two counts of grand theft by deception after Idaho State Police said the two accepted funds from an undercover officer.
On Monday, Michael Holley was in court along with his attorney, George Essma, and Twin Falls County Deputy Prosecutor Rosemary Emory.
The purpose of the hearing was to work out any scheduling issues before the trial, set to begin May 29.
Essma told Twin Falls County 5th District Judge Randy Stoker that he had been attempting to resolve the case with a plea deal. Essma said his client could possibly enter an Alford plea, meaning he'd admit that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him, but not admit to all the elements of the charges against him.
He also told Stoker that Michael Holley is adamant about his innocence and that the recent death of a family member could have been affecting his ability to focus on the case.
At that point, Stoker told Michael Holley that he should speak with Essma about the possible plea deal. Michael Holley told the judge that he would not speak with Essma and went into a tirade against the prosecutor's office.
Stoker cautioned Holley to not speak about the case or incriminate himself on the record.
The judge then attempted to get the hearing back on track when Holley again interrupted Essma while he was discussing how many days the trial could take.
"I'm to the point where I don't care if I live or die," Michael Holley said. "I'm not going to prison."
As Essma tried to get his client to stop speaking, Holley picked up his cane, nearly striking Essma, then asked court security to take him out of the courtroom, saying no one was listening to him.
After being escorted out of court, Holley could be heard yelling in the hallway of the courthouse.
Stoker said the hearing could continue and Essma explained he'd been having a hard time communicating with his client about the case.
Essma said he was ready to go to trial but believed Holley might display some of the same behavior in a trial setting.
Stoker asked Essma if he believed his client was competent or could understand the court proceedings. Essma said he hadn't been able to get Holley to calm down enough for him to explain the proceedings and he believed Holley was unable to assist in his own defense.
Stoker ordered a second mental health evaluation and said the May 29 trial could be cancelled if the evaluation takes too long.
In October, prosecutors charged Lisa Holley with an additional count of grand theft by deception. Prosecutors say Holley falsely claimed she was pregnant with triplets and received more than $1,000 in cash and goods from church members in Buhl.
Mental health evaluations have also been ordered in both of Lisa Holley’s cases and no trial dates have been set.