By LAUREN SILVER Court TV
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (Court TV) — Sarah Boone, the Florida woman accused of murdering her boyfriend who was found inside a zipped suitcase, has sent letters to her attorney and the judge in her case, saying that she has not been represented fairly.
The letter, dated March 22, is addressed to Frank Bankowitz, who was appointed as Boone’s attorney on July 11, 2022. In the letter, which appears to be missing pages, Boone says that she has been trying to reach Bankowitz using two different phone numbers, but has been unable to reach him in eight months.
“I even in my desperation to speak with you had an outside caller try to reach you on my behalf, who tried reaching your office three (3) times over the last almost 3 weeks, leaving a voicemail each time with no reply.”
Boone was arrested for the murder of her boyfriend, Jorge Torres Jr., on Feb. 24, 2020. Boone told police that she and Torres had been drinking and playing a game of “hide-n-seek” when she zipped him into a suitcase.
In the affidavit of probable cause filed in the case, police said that Boone claimed to have gone up to bed and came down hours later to find Torres dead inside the suitcase. Detectives said they found videos on Boone’s phone that showed Torres yelling for help from inside the suitcase.
The original attorney who represented Boone, Mauricio Padilla, initially tried to withdraw from the case on April 18, 2022. Boone wrote a letter to the judge in response, saying she wanted the judge “to be fully aware of the magnitude of my shock and disappointment in the betrayal of Mr. Padilla as I have not in anyway, by anyone been provided any explanation for the aforementioned withdrawal, etc.”
Padilla withdrew his motion but then filed it once again the following month, saying that the attorney-client relationship had become “adversarial.”
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A series of public defenders were then appointed to represent Boone, with each forced to withdraw citing a conflict of interest. Frank Bankowitz was formally named Boone’s attorney on July 11, 2022, according to court records.
On Oct. 3, Boone sent a letter to the judge, saying she had only spoken with her new attorney three times.
On Jan. 10, 2023, Boone sent a letter to Bankowitz and the judge in the case, saying that she was concerned because she had not heard from her lawyer since the previous status hearing on Dec. 27. Boone references an upcoming pre-trial conference, scheduled for Jan. 17 in the letter, and notes she would like to attend.
Court records indicate that Boone was not present for the pre-trial conference held Jan. 17. The order for the following status conference Feb. 10 notes “defendant’s attendance is mandatory.” Court records indicate the defendant was present at that hearing.
In her most recent letter, dated March 22, Boone said she learned she has another pre-trial conference scheduled for March 31, and was told “for whatever the reason, I am unable to attend any of my conferences. How am I supposed to know WHAT’S GOING ON and what you are reporting and what is being discussed between ALL THE OTHER PARTIES except me — THE MAIN COMPONENT IN MY CASE.”
Boone referenced Court TV in her letter, asking why the media would be allowed to attend pre-trial conferences and hearings when she is not.
“Help me understand please — how can Court TV, different news channel and even ‘professional’ YouTubers attend my (pre-trial conference) and I cannot? How? I’m sure one of the “other” parties can help me with updates since they will all be in attendance. … I would like to be a part of all this seeing as it ALL pertains to me. Please. It is my right.”
The letter ends abruptly, and it appears some pages may be missing.
Boone’s trial is scheduled to begin July 24, 2023.