LIMA — Spending a portion of his 18th birthday in an Allen County courtroom, Juan Freeman II on Monday asked Judge Terri Kohlrieser to appoint a new attorney to defend him on two felony counts.
Freeman, who is charged with two counts of aggravated robbery with firearm specifications, was a juvenile when he is alleged to have robbed Little Caesar’s pizza and Hermie’s Party Shop at gunpoint on Jan. 14, 2020. He appeared in court Monday with his attorney, William Kluge, and asked the judge to appoint a new lawyer to represent him. “I feel like he is not representing me the right way,” the teenager told Kohlrieser.
Kluge agreed, in part. “I believe our relationship is beyond repair,” the veteran attorney told the judge. But he disagreed with Freeman’s contention that there had been limited contact with the defendant and his family.
“I have talked with his mother and I have talked with his father about the case,” Kluge said.
He told Freeman’s family prior to Monday’s hearing that prosecutors had recommended a deal that called for the teenager to plead guilty to one count of aggravated robbery in exchange for the state’s dismissal of the second count. A prison sentence of 14 years would be recommended as part of that deal.
“There is video evidence and there’s a confession he made, all of which makes the state’s case a very strong one,” Kluge said.
Freeman is also facing an additional charge of escape that is expected to be filed in the near future. While awaiting trial as an adult, Freeman escaped from custody of the Allen County Juvenile Detention Center on the evening of Oct. 25 after being transported to the emergency department at Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center. As the juvenile was being escorted back to the transport vehicle by a female JDC officer, he fled across the hospital parking lot. The officer gave chase but fell during the pursuit, and Freeman was not immediately located but was apprehended some six weeks later in Waterloo, Iowa.
Freeman and Na’zier Howard, both of whom were 17 years old at the time, were indicted by the July session of the grand jury with aggravated robbery, first-degree felonies that include firearm specifications, in connection with the pizza and convenience store hold-ups.
Kohlrieser on Monday said a new attorney would be appointed for Freeman.