LIMA — A Lima man who in late June pleaded no contest to charges that could potentially land him behind bars for decades is seeking to withdraw those pleas.
Moments before his jury trial was to begin June 22, Marquavius Shurelds in a deal with prosecutors pleaded no contest to four of the seven charges against him: kidnapping, two counts of felonious assault and one count of aggravated robbery. More than a month after Shurelds entered his pleas, he sent hand-written notes to Judge Jeffrey Reed seeking to fire his court-appointed attorney and to withdraw his previous pleas. His attorney subsequently filed an official motion to that effect and arguments surround that motion were held Tuesday in an Allen County courtroom.
Kirk McVay of the Ohio Public Defenders Office asked that Shurelds be permitted to withdraw his pleas. McVay argued that Shurelds, 29, was under duress at the time the plea was entered after an earlier court decision to deny him a continuance of the trial in order to retain new legal counsel and to subpoena witnesses.
Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Anthony Miller, in his written response to the motion, said the state’s case “would be prejudiced” if Shurelds was permitted to withdraw the plea.
“One of the state’s material witnesses was (and is) under what amounts to community control in Utah at the time the trial was scheduled,” Miller said in his motion. “Officers from the Lima Police Department traveled by automobile to Utah to bring the witness back to Allen County to testify. At the time the witness was scheduled to enter a rehabilitation program as a condition of his Utah community control. The Utah authorities informed the Ohio authorities that the witness would not be available for approximately 18 months once he entered the program,” Miller said.
During a brief stint on the witness stand Tuesday, Shurelds said he sought to have McVay removed from his case “because you didn’t subpoena no one I wanted you too.” The Lima man said he was told that “if I went to trial I would get 64 years (in prison) but if I went to trial I would get less” prison time. Those events placed him under duress, to told the court.
Miller correctly pointed out that defendants cannot “fire” their court-appointed attorneys.
Judge Jeffrey Reed took the motions under advisement and said he would issue a ruling prior to Shurelds’ scheduled Aug. 10 sentencing date.
Prosecutors say Shurelds conspired with Kiarris Laws to rob Dequaisha Wilson and Alonzo Williams in an apartment at The Village, a complex at 1510 Bradfield Drive in Lima. Laws was sentenced to 54 years in prison in February for his role in the incident.