Michelle Le's accused killer cannot fire her lawyer, judge rules 

click to enlarge Giselle Esteban, 27, is accused of murdering Le, a 26-year-old San Mateo woman who disappeared from Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Hayward in May. (Courtesy photo) - GISELLE ESTEBAN, 27, IS ACCUSED OF MURDERING LE, A 26-YEAR-OLD SAN MATEO WOMAN WHO DISAPPEARED FROM KAISER PERMANENTE MEDICAL CENTER IN HAYWARD IN MAY. (COURTESY PHOTO)
  • Giselle Esteban, 27, is accused of murdering Le, a 26-year-old San Mateo woman who disappeared from Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Hayward in May. (Courtesy photo)
  • Giselle Esteban, 27, is accused of murdering Le, a 26-year-old San Mateo woman who disappeared from Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Hayward in May. (Courtesy photo)

Giselle Esteban, the woman accused of murdering nursing student Michelle Le, cannot fire her court-appointed lawyer, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Le, a 26-year-old San Mateo woman who was attending Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, disappeared from Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Hayward in May. Her body was found in unincorporated part of Alameda County between Pleasanton and Sunol on Sept. 17.

Esteban, a 27-year-old Union City woman who attended high school with Le in San Diego, said Monday that she wanted to replace Oakland attorney Andrea Auer, who has been representing her for about a month.

But Alameda County Superior Court Judge Gary Picetti announced at the end of a closed hearing Tuesday that he was denying Esteban's motion.

Picetti said Monday that prosecutors, the media and the public are barred from hearings at which defendants seek to fire their court-appointed lawyers because "confidential things may be revealed."

Esteban, who is pregnant and is being held in custody without bail, is scheduled to return to court on Dec. 2 to enter a plea.

Auer had planned to seek bail for Esteban at a hearing Monday but that motion was put on hold when Esteban sought to fire her.

Auer said Tuesday that she may still try to get bail for Esteban at a later date but she hasn't yet made a final decision on the matter.

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