Prichard man claims attorney pressured him to plead responsible to pharmacy heists

Cell, Ala. (WALA) – A Prichard guy accused in a string of pharmacy heists promises his lawyer pressured him to plead guilty to federal charges.

Reginald Jujuan Howell asked previously this month to be allowed to acquire again his 2021 guilty plea. In a the latest courtroom submitting, his recent lawyer laid out the situation for withdrawing the plea, which federal courts commonly do not allow.

“Defendant was subjected to serious coercion by his trial attorney in her work to persuade the defendant to plead responsible,” attorney Tim Fleming wrote in his courtroom filing. “The coercion, duress to these types of an extent that he abandoned his motivation to progress to demo and acquiesced to the urging of defense counsel to enter a responsible plea.”

Fleming wrote that his client’s attorney at the time pressured him for hours ahead of he agreed to indication the plea agreement.

The U.S. Attorney’s Business office has not however responded. A judge on June 9 will contemplate Howell’s request. If he agrees with the defendant, the case will be set for trial. If not, the choose will sentence Howell that times.

Howell pleaded responsible in July to conspiracy to have with intent to distribute medication, theft and brandishing a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. His published plea settlement detailed 4 pharmacies that he either burglarized or robbed.

But a few days right after the plea, Howell previously was acquiring 2nd thoughts. He filed a “notice of appeal” in search of to undo the plea. His legal professional at the time, Megan Allgood, questioned her client’s mental competency and requested for a psychiatric evaluation. The judge affirmed the findings of the Federal Bureau of Prisons figuring out he was competent. The choose then established the case for sentencing.

But the defendant in a court filing he designed on his own argued he is harmless.

“I was named to the marshal’s business office by my lawyer the place she began to query me about why I was so self-confident in heading to demo,” he wrote “I explained to her I was innocent and just wished to and thought that I would gain. And she advised me that we wouldn’t get in trial. 100 moments out of 100, she insisted.”

Fleming also argued that prosecutors and the defense lawyer misinformed Howell about the probable penalty he confronted if he pleaded responsible. He pointed to the plea agreement, which states that the penalty for brandishing a weapon all through a drug trafficking crime was 7 several years on top of whichever jail phrase he received for the other counts. But the true penalty, Fleming wrote, was seven several years to lifestyle in prison.

“Had the defendant been correctly instructed by the authorities and his attorney prior to executing the plea settlement that he faced a most sentence of existence imprisonment consecutive to the sentences imposed in the companion counts, he would have under no circumstances entered the guilty plea,” Fleming wrote. “This constitutes a vital mistake of constitutional proportions.”

At the plea listening to, the decide did the right way state that Howell confronted a chance of daily life in jail. But Fleming wrote that the judge did not confirm that the defendant understood this.

“As we all know, a sentence of daily life in jail in federal court docket implies just that – the remainder of your everyday living,” he wrote. “No parole or early release.”

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