Shooting Defendant’s Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea Unsuccessful

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On Nov. 16, defendant Tyrone Hawkins’ motion to withdraw his plea was denied by Judge Michael O’Keefe

Hawkins, 22, is accused of 14 charges, including assault with a deadly weapon, assault with intent to kill, and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, for his involvement in a non-fatal shooting that occurred on Sept. 23, 2021, at the 400 block of Valley Avenue, SE. One person sustained non-life threatening injuries. 

On Sept. 22, Hawkins accepted a deal which required him to plead guilty to assault with intent to kill and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence in exchange for dropping the rest of the charges.

On Nov. 13, Hawkins filed a motion to withdraw his plea. Hawkins claimed he didn’t fully understand the plea, saying that attorney Gemma Stevens did not adequately explain it to him. 

“She gave me the plea ten minutes before I walked in here. They read it to me one time,” Hawkins said. 

Judge O’Keefe reminded Hawkins that before he took the plea, Hawkins was granted a break to better understand the plea after he complained about being uninformed. When the hearing resumed, Judge O’Keefe asked if he understood the plea, to which Hawkins replied that he did. 

Hawkins argued that he wanted a better plea, but Stevens was unable to provide that. “No defense attorney can provide the defendant a plea offer the government is not willing to agree to,” the prosecution said. Stevens is Hawkins’ third attorney.

Prosecutors argued that the plea agreement had been offered when his previous attorney was still in place. 

Hawkins also complained about being unable to access documents related to his case, saying “I’ve been locked up two years, and I don’t have nothing but an affidavit.” According to the prosecution, Stevens had requested that he have access to court documents, but the prosecutors denied the request due to a stay-away order that was in place. 

Stevens also filed a motion to withdraw from the case, citing a “fundamental lack of trust between him and me”. Hawkins agreed and requested a new attorney, saying he didn’t want an attorney that he didn’t believe wanted to help him. 

Judge O’Keefe hesitated to fulfill the request, saying that Hawkins had some of the best attorneys available and would be unable to get a better plea regardless of the attorney. 

O’Keefe ultimately decided to grant Hawkins’ a new attorney, however, he did not accept the withdrawal of the plea, saying there was no legal basis for it. 

Sentencing is set for Dec. 1, but will be continued if the new attorney does not have proper time to prepare.

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