LIMA — A Michigan man who arrived in a Lima courtroom for sentencing Wednesday morning returned to his jail cell 30 minutes later with a new hearing date and the promise of a new attorney.
John Morici in October pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated robbery after intimidating a clerk at a Lima convenience with a knife and threatening to “gut you like a fish.”
During his sentencing hearing on Wednesday, however, Morici told Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Terri Kohlrieser that his court-appointed attorney, Carroll Creighton, had failed to provide discovery documents from prosecutors in advance of his plea.
Creighton disagreed with his client’s assertion but did admit that communications had broken down between himself and Morici.
“I don’t believe I can adequately represent him,” Creighton told Kohlrieser in asking to step down as Morici’s attorney.
Kohlrieser said a new attorney would be appointed.
Morici also asked to withdraw his guilty plea, but the judge said that would be discussed when a new attorney takes over the case.
Morici, 54, of Eastpoint, Michigan, had previously pleaded guilty to a first-degree felony charge of aggravated robbery following an April 13 incident at the Dairy Market convenience store, 531 W. Kibby St., Lima.
According to court documents, Morici entered the Dairy Market on April 13 and handed the clerk a note with instructions to put tobacco products into a bag. The clerk reportedly told the man he would first have to produce money to pay for the products. The report says Morici grabbed the bag and began walking toward the exit when a second clerk intercepted him. Morici reportedly then produced a knife and told the clerk to get out of the way or he would “gut him like a fish.”
Morici entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity but was subsequently determined by doctors at the Forensic Psychiatry Center of Western Ohio in Dayton to be competent to stand trial. Two evaluations of Morici’s mental health were conducted, examining both his competency to stand trial and his mental state at the time of the alleged incident.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Morici told the judge he was going through withdrawal from drugs prescribed for psychological disorders when he committed the robbery.
“I wasn’t out to hurt anybody; I just needed to get some cigarettes,” he said.