Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will undoubtedly rack up a pretty penny in public defense funds as well. Unless some radical Islamist group picks up the tab, I can't imagine who else will, besides you and me. Multiple death penalty lawyers are being eyed for his dream defense team (link).
Given the endless littany of Sequestration cuts, including air traffic controllers, meat inspectors, national parks and on and on, let's think about redefining what a public defense should entail. I'm thinking it should be limited to a newly minted law school graduate looking to accumulate some experience and build a resume. If that were the case, I think more people would reconsider that automatic not-guilty plea or pony up some of their own money towards their defense. A prime example would be our esteemed Speaker of the House here in Massachusetts who was recently tried and convicted for taking a kickback from a corporate crony - all on the public dime. I suspect he was far from destitute, though. A rock solid public defense is one of those expenditures, though, that I think our government representatives will take a long time to come around to reforming. After all, 95% of them are lawyers themselves and these trials are a cash cow for their buddies.