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Former Yates Co. Public Defender fails to appear for court date

Edward Brockman, the former Yates County Public Defender and still-serving attorney for the Village of Penn Yan, failed to appear for a scheduled court hearing at 5:30 p.m. Thursday March 8 in Penn Yan Village Court.

Brockman, 70, of Naples, was accused of groping a teenage female client in February 2016, and is charged by State Police Investigators with forcible touching as a class A misdemeanor.

The prosecution of the case has been complicated by the death by drug overdose of Brockman’s accuser, now identified as Shylo Zirkle, 20, who died in September.

Brooks Baker, the Steuben County District Attorney appointed as special prosecutor, says with no complainant to testify in court and with a defendant’s right to face his accuser, the case has become technically difficult.

Thursday’s hearing was to hear the subpoenaed testimony of Wendy Christensen, Shylo Zirkle’s mother. With the judge, the special prosecutor, and State Police present, but not Brockman or his defense attorney, Robert Zimmerman, Christensen was left standing in the cold outside the Village Hall. A Penn Yan Police Officer eventually came out to explain to her there would be no hearing that evening. According to the court, they have no knowledge of why Brockman and Zimmerman did not appear, and no new date has yet been set to hear Christensen’s statements.

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