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Bristol Palin's boyfriend's mom now has high-powered attorney

PALMER, Alaska — Sherry Johnston came to court Friday morning with an entourage -- son Levi, daughter Mercedes, and her new attorney, prominent Anchorage defense lawyer Rex Butler.

Johnston left with a new trial date: May instead of March.

The 42-year-old pleaded not guilty last month to six felony counts of possessing and selling the prescription painkiller OxyContin.

Investigators with the Mat-Su drug unit arrested Johnston in December at her home off Wasilla-Fishhook Road. She sold pills in the Wasilla Target parking lot to informants working with investigators, according to court documents filed by Alaska State Troopers.

Her arrest received national attention because her son, Levi Johnston, 18, is the father of Gov. Sarah Palin's grandson, Tripp, born in December.

The Johnston family joined about 20 other people waiting for hearings in Palmer Superior Court on Friday morning. Sherry Johnston, neatly dressed in a white hoodie sweater, sat next to Mercedes and a second unidentified teenage boy. Johnston and her husband, Keith, are in the midst of an amicable divorce, she has said.

With the presidential election over and the national media long gone, no one paid special attention to the group, though Superior Court Judge Eric Smith did ask one of the young men to remove his ball cap.

Butler told Smith that he filed notice Friday morning that he was taking over as Johnston's lawyer, replacing a state-funded attorney from the Office of Public Advocacy. He asked Smith to push back the trial to allow him to get up to speed on the case.

Smith set a new trial date of May 18.

Butler, one of the busiest defense attorneys in Anchorage, has represented high-profile clients and murder defendants including Michael Lawson, the Anchorage man sentenced to 99 years in the killing of 21-year-old Talkeetna resident Bethany Correira, and Josef F. Boehm, the businessman sentenced to 11 years for his role in an underage drug and sex trafficking ring.

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