LIMA — A Lima woman who as a 20-year-old was sentenced to 14 years in prison for her part in a string of home break-ins and robberies has filed a motion to withdraw her guilty plea — more than four years after the fact.
Mackenzie Basham is now 24 years old and is serving time at the maximum security Dayton Correctional Institution after pleading guilty in 2014 to eight counts of burglary. Basham was sentenced Aug. 5, 2014, following her acceptance of a plea deal with prosecutors.
But in a motion filed earlier this week in Allen County Common Pleas Court, a private attorney hired by Basham’s family alleges that ineffective, unethical and borderline criminal representation by Basham’s former attorney — who is now deceased — contributed to the young woman’s decision to plead guilty to the crimes.
Attorney Brian Joslyn claims the legal advice offered by Michael Dugan, who served as Basham’s court-appointed attorney throughout her case, was “so substandard that it was not only constitutionally infirm, but also contained false statements about the evidence in the case.” Joslyn in his filing claims “the evidence will show that no reasonable person … could have knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently entered into the plea of guilty in this matter” as the result of Dugan’s legal advice.
Joslyn said Ohio law “allows a defendant to withdraw his or her plea, even after sentencing, if failure to do so would result in a manifest injustice.”
Citing but a few of the alleged errors on the part of Basham’s former attorney, Joslyn said Dugan “never reviewed the discovery (evidence) with her.” He also alleges that Bashman was “told by her attorney and by the trial court at her plea and sentencing hearing that she was facing 64 years (in prison) … when in reality was she was facing a maximum of 24 years with no presumption of incarceration. As such, it cannot possibly be said that the defendant’s plea to the charges was knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently made.”
Joslyn also alleges Basham was erroneously charged at the time of her indictment. The woman was charged with eight second-degree felony burglary counts. Joslyn in his motion says that one of the necessary elements for that charge, under Ohio law, is that the crime was committed “when any person … is present or likely to be present” in the structure. Joslyn says it is “clear from the facts of this case that all the burglaries … took place in homes that were not occupied nor likely to be occupied.”
He cited statements offered from victims, law enforcement and the defendant herself as evidence that “it is clear the defendant should have been charged under (a different state statute), which was a third-degree felony.”