Weston, 53, was indicted last week on racketeering, murder, involuntary servitude and other charges. The 196-count indictment also charged her daughter, Jean McIntosh, and three men. All but one have been in custody since October 2011, when Philadelphia police discovered their alleged victims, dirty and malnourished, locked in a Tacony basement.
Weston alone is accused of causing the deaths of two captives, by failing to feed or care for them in apartments in Philadelphia and Norfolk. Prosecutors say they will review the case before deciding whether or not to seek the death penalty.
Weston, who is being held without bail, is expected to plead not guilty to the charges. But Restrepo postponed her arraignment and detention hearing until Thursday so she could meet with the new lawyers.
Yacoubian, who had represented Weston since her arrest 14 months ago and had prepared for a Common Pleas Court trial, said he was surprised but not upset by the judge's decision. He said he'll continue to help if she wants.
He said the allegation that Weston led an organized crime enterprise to sustain a certain lifestyle was weak. She and her counterparts were just individuals struggling to survive, Yacoubian said.
"I haven't seen any evidence of any [luxurious] lifestyle," he said. "They all lived in squalid apartments in various locations."
Contact John P. Martin at 215-925-2649, at firstname.lastname@example.org or @JPMartinInky on Twitter.