Judge promises ‘no free ride’ for defendants

Published 5:00 am Friday, July 26, 2002

Judge Mike Smith promised “no free rides” Thursday as defendantsappeared in Lincoln County Circuit Court for arraignmentproceedings.

Most defendants showed up with no attorneys and sought to havethe court appoint them legal representation. Reasons cited fortheir alleged indigency included being disabled, receiving SocialSecurity, being unemployed or self-employed.

The public defender’s office was assigned the majority of thecases, but Smith said defendants would still pay for those legalservices if convicted.

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“It’s not a free ride,” Smith said.

In all, 29 cases were directed to the public defender’soffice.

“Y’all are going to pay some serious attorneys’ fees if you arefound guilty or you plead guilty,” Smith warned defendants, addingthat he would take their employment status into consideration whensetting fees.

One defendant’s request for an attorney was rejected when theman, a restaurant employee, said he made about $100 a night in tipsat a Brookhaven eating establishment. A few defendants said theyhad attorneys who could not be present Thursday, or they were inthe process of getting counsel.

Samuel Seals, 27, of 997 South First St., was shocked when Smithraised his bond from $5,000 to $20,000 cash only and ordered himplaced in custody. Seals is charged with attempted armed robberyand aggravated assault related to pool game winnings and anincident outside a Brookhaven club.

Seals was assigned to the public defender’s office. However,court officials were checking into the family’s savings accountsituation to see if he was eligible for the court-appointedrepresentation.

“Folks that have a good bit in the bank can hire their ownattorney,” Smith said.

Most defendants waived arraignment, which is the formal readingof charges against them, and in effect pleaded not guilty. Formalarraignment was held for two defendants:

* Johnny Lee Wallace, 19, of 3629 Winnrose Lane, Ruth — twocounts of burglary of a dwelling, conspiracy, armed robbery andkidnapping.

* Kentory Benson, 22, of 104 Hines St. — two counts of armedrobbery and one count of possession of a firearm by a convictedfelon.

Aug. 14 was set as the omnibus/plea day. Defendants may pleaguilty before that date or a trial date will be set during theiromnibus hearing.

Other defendants facing arraignment Thursday and their chargesincluded:

* Keesler Rockingham, 37, of 880 Baldwin Loop — unlawfulpossession of cocaine.

* Duffy Waylan Harveston, 24, of 1023 Old Highway 51, — thirdoffense DUI.

* Jatran Sanders, 19, of 804 Dow St. — uttering forgery.

* Sylvester Williams, 27, 632 North Sixth St. — two counts offalse pretense and escape.

* Lapatrick Kawait Daniels, 25, of 1274 Brookway BoulevardExtension — eight counts of burglary.

* Lanecual L. Markham, 23, of 909 Ole Brook Road — aggravatedassault and burglary of a dwelling.

* Virginia Bogan, 25, of 1111 Crooked Lane — shooting into amotor vehicle and two counts of aggravated assault.

* Cedric Watson, 26, of 201 Fulton St. — robbery by an habitualcriminal.

* William Earl Hughes, 51, of 216 Hall St. — attempted burglaryand four counts of burglary.

* Curtis D. Acy, 31, of 2269 Jackson-Liberty Dr. — first degreearson.

* Lateef A. Murray, 19, of 1063 Union St. — unlawful taking ofa motor vehicle.

* Christopher Smith, 19, of 299 Georgia Ave. — first degreearson.

* Jason A. Markham, 18, of 133 Brignall Road — unlawfulpossession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

* Tony L. Piggs, 18, of 1201 North Center St. — unlawfulpossession of marijuana.

* Kevin Brothern, 31, of 127 Fourth Trail — unlawful possessionand unlawful sale of cocaine.

* Russell Daniels, 24, of 1217 Wally Lane — failure to supportminor children.

* Eric Williams Sr., 22, of 1540 Crump Lane — failure tosupport minor children.

* Martha E. Jackson, 33, of 1114 Montgomery Lane, Wesson –felony bad checks.

* Felice A. Lyles, 26, of Ole Wesson Road Lot 14 — felony badchecks.

* Tony O’Neal Martin, 29, of 640 Twin Oaks Lane — felony badchecks.

* Kenneth Ray Motley, 36, of 1012 Seventh St. — felony badchecks.

* Felicia S. Hayes, 28, of 200 Robert Charles Dr., Monticello –felony bad checks.

* Michael J. Veneroso, 33, of 1414 N. Jackson St. — felony badchecks.

In other court action Thursday, Rhonda Russell, also known asRhonda Rose, 27, of 1069 California Road, pleaded guilty toburglary of a dwelling and four counts uttering forgery. She wasscheduled to be sentenced Aug. 14.

Also, two defendants pleaded guilty to misdemeanor bad checkscharges and were sentenced. They were sentenced to six months injail, suspended for two years good behavior probation, and to payfull restitution, a $100 fine and court costs.