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And the dish ran away with the spoon 

In a small courtroom last week at the County Annex on Monterey Street, the Central Coast’s bizarre trial of the year quietly took a new turn. The three co-defendants discussed plea-bargaining offers with their attorneys, and two stepped to the plate, bringing two thirds of the Strip-o-gram case to an unceremonious conclusion.

Private dancer Maureen Murphy, 25, and enforcer Richard Adam, 23—who broke into an Atascadero man’s home to collect unpaid escort fees at knifepoint—pled no contest to the charge of felonious residential robbery. By waiving their right to a trial, the pair received reduced sentences of nine months for Murphy and three years for the knife-wielding Adam. In exchange, Deputy District Attorney Matt Kraut dropped charges of false imprisonment and felony battery against both defendants, along with a laundry list of home invasion and deadly weapon enhancements to Adam’s robbery count.

After the wheeling and dealing, just one co-defendant remained—the narcoleptic stripper, 20-year-old Leslie Talbert of Paso Robles. The sentencing of Adams and Murphy were delayed twenty minutes while Talbert reviewed the deal, which she eventually declined.

“She’s shocked,â€? Talbert’s lawyer Kirk Endres reported to the court as his client waited in the hallway. A visually-floored Talbert walked in soon after Adams received sentence to hesitantly pass on the district attorney’s undisclosed offer. She then  informed the court that she had droppedf Endres from her defense. “I guess you can do that,â€? Judge Barry LaBarbera flippantly responded.

LaBarbara allowed Talbert a week to find new representation, rescheduling the preliminary hearing to this morning. Talbert will now go to trial, facing two counts of conspiracy to burgle. As of publication, no new attorney has been named. Numerous calls to Endres’ office have not been returned.

The case began Jan. 23 when Adams and Murphy visited the house of retired salesman John Skinner to collect $400 that they claim Skinner owed Talbert for services rendered on a pair of occasions. Talbert told Murphy about being shafted by Skinner and allegedly asked her to pay the North County resident a visit.

After Skinner returned home from bible study on the night of the crime, Murphy went to his door, offering a free strip-o-gram. When Skinner agreed, Adams forced his way in, tied the man to a chair with makeshift cords, and told the victim—according to police reports—he was leaving with either the money or a body part. Skinner admitted to stiffing the stripper once, but claims the narcoleptic Talbert fell asleep during the other session in question.

Adams stabbed the victim in the foot and struck him once in the face, reportedly for blaspheming against Jesus. However, finding Skinner short on cash, Adams and Murphy took a pack of cigarettes, a pair of bike shorts and a small red pocketknife, before making a failed attempt to steal a car out of the garage.

During questioning, Talbert maintained that she never intended her friends to use violent means, but just wanted the money.


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