LIMA — A Lima man, who by his own admission jumped bail in 2008 and spent more than a decade eluding authorities before his arrest in Kansas last year, took the witness stand Tuesday to argue he should be allowed to withdraw guilty pleas to charges in two cases against him.
Gregory Gaddy Jr., 36, testified in Allen County Common Pleas Court that he received ineffective legal counsel from court-appointed attorney Steve Chamberlain and therefore should be allowed to withdraw his pleas. Gaddy claimed it was Chamberlain’s lack of cooperation and preparation, in part, that caused him to plead guilty in the middle of his jury trial earlier this year to charges of aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary, both first-degree felonies that included firearm specifications, as well as a fourth-degree felony charge of failure to appear.
During his testimony Tuesday, Gaddy said he did not jump bail in his 2007 cocaine trafficking case to avoid those charges, but instead because “I was afraid of dying in the Allen County jail.” Gaddy said he had been hospitalized and “almost died” during a previous stint in the jail after medical personnel there denied repeated requests for treatment.
During at-times contradictory testimony, Gaddy said he felt he was “forced” to plead guilty on the second day of his jury trial in April due to Chamberlain’s ineffectiveness.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jana Emerick, however, suggested to the court that Gaddy elected to plead guilty because he saw the evidence against him continue to mount during the trial.
“So, in the 2008 case (that was being heard by jurors in April) are you alleging that you are innocent?” Emerick asked Gaddy.
“Yes,” the defendant replied.
“But isn’t it true that in a letter you wrote to the judge on May 6 of this year that you take responsibility for your wrong-doings?” Emerick continued.
“Yes,” Gaddy said.
The prosecutor maintained that only after he had accepted a plea deal that capped his potential prison time at 13 years — down from a maximum possible sentence of 32 years — did Gaddy raise the issue of ineffective legal counsel.
“The state would suggest that a change of heart is not a legitimate reason for changing one’s plea,” Emerick said.
The prosecutor also suggested that, from her perspective, Chamberlain had done an “admirable job” of defending Gaddy.
“There is no requirement that a defense attorney must be able to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear,” Emerick told the court.
Judge Jeffrey Reed took the motions under advisement and said he would rule in a timely manner.
Gaddy was represented during Tuesday’s hearing by Attorney Zach Maisch.