ELLICOTT CITY,MD. -- Defense attorneys for former Howard County day care center owner Sandra A. Craig, who was convicted in April of molesting a 6-year-old girl, plan to argue that she should be granted a new trial because the attorney who represented her was incompetent, according to court papers filed today.

In an amended motion for a new trial, attorney William H. Murphy Jr. said that Craig's previous lawyer, Fred Kolodner, had unwittingly contributed to his client's conviction by conducting unneccessary and open-ended cross-examinations.

Murphy said that Kolodner failed to object when the state introduced "irrelevant" and "inflammatory" evidence and had not requested certain records that have since been made available to the defense.

During a Circuit Court hearing on the motion today, Murphy argued that state prosecutors, local agencies and the child's therapist had purposely withheld from the defense information that could have been used to exonerate Craig. Kolodner was summoned as a witness at the hearing but had not appeared by the time it recessed tonight. The hearing is to resume Tuesday.

Kolodner's cocounsel in the Craig case, James Hurt, who was present today, said outside the courtroom that the attorney "did the best he could."

If Judge Raymond I. Kane denies the motion for a new trial, Craig could be sentenced to life imprisonment.