LIMA — Myriad health woes within the network of Allen County defense attorneys has prompted county judges to reach out to the state for assistance.
Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed acknowledged Tuesday that the recent hospitalization of a handful of local attorneys, including the head of the Allen County Public Defenders’ Office, Steve Chamberlain, has slowed the wheels of justice greatly.
“We are in kind of a crunch in Allen County, so we’ve contacted the Ohio Public Defenders’ office,” Reed said Tuesday during a hearing for Terrez Carter of Lima, charged with rape, kidnapping and drug charges which, upon conviction, could land him in prison for up to 114 years.
The purpose of Tuesday’s hearing was to appoint a new attorney for Carter after his privately-retained lawyer, Ken Rexford, asked to be dismissed from the case last month. Seated at the defense table with Carter on Tuesday was Ohio public defender Kirk McVay.
Carter, 46, was indicted in July 2018 in connection with an alleged rape that occurred at a residence at 717 N. Metcalf St. Three additional rape charges, also first-degree felonies, were filed against Carter for alleged incidents that took place in 2015. The alleged victim in the 2018 case was different from the victim in the 2015 case, officials said.
Two kidnapping charges, each first-degree felonies, were included in the indictment — each related to the alleged rapes. Carter was also indicted for possession of a bulk amount of cocaine, a felony of the first degree, and having a weapon under disability.
He was indicted one month earlier on a first-degree felony charge of possession of cocaine, with firearm and forfeiture specifications, and a third-degree felony charge of having weapons under disability.
Carter was scheduled to stand trial later this month. Due to his previous attorney’s withdrawal and the appointment of the state public defenders’ office to represent him, Carter’s trial has now been pushed back until February 2020.
Other high-profile cases have been postponed in Allen County Common Pleas Court in Chamberlain’s absence. Shelly Wireman, charged with involuntary manslaughter in the 2018 death of her infant son, also appeared in court Tuesday to learn of possible delays in her trial.
Wireman is scheduled to stand trial beginning Sept. 17, but Reed told her that Chamberlain’s health issues could cause the trial to be postponed. Reed said Chamberlain has expressed optimism that he will return to work after Labor Day.
McVay was also in court Tuesday as the new court-appointed attorney for Timothy Youngblood, the Lima man accused of stabbing his father to death with a sword in July 2018.
Youngblood, 32, was ruled incompetent to stand trial but restorable within one year of treatment, according to an October report from the Forensic Psychiatric Center of Western Ohio in Dayton. A second opinion was subsequently ordered in the case. Youngblood’s jury trial is tentatively scheduled for January.