There's no such thing as a free lunch, and the same might be said of legal services for a Mount Pleasant man if a Racine County judge grants his request to fire his defense lawyer.
Justin Jerell Blakemore, 25, was sentenced in December to 40 years in prison followed by 20 years on extended supervision for the 2010 fatal shooting of a man at Tino's Carryout, according to court records. He also was accused of shooting a second man in the face that night inside the restaurant's lobby.
But in a June 4 letter from First Assistant State Public Defender Joseph Ehmann, he stated Blakemore directed his court-appointed defense attorney, Bradley Lochowicz of Elkhorn, to withdraw as his public defender for his appeals. If Blakemore's request is granted, he stated, "...Mr. Blakemore will be waiving his right to public defender representation and no new or successor counsel will be appointed."
Blakemore has until July 30 to file an appeal, court records show.
"Believe it or not, there are some defendants that fire lawyers without good reason to delay (a case)," Racine County Circuit Judge Allan "Pat" Torhorst said in court Tuesday.
Court records show Blakemore had three prior defense attorneys between November 2010 and April 27, 2011.
"Apparently the State Public Defender is getting concerned (about defendants firing their assistant state public defenders on appeal)," Torhorst said.
Torhorst set another hearing for July 26, saying he wanted to ensure that Blakemore knows if he fires Lochowicz, he likely will not receive another free defense lawyer. He could, however, hire a private defense lawyer or file any appeal on his own.
"My view is he's gotta have notice, that I'll buy, that he's waiving his appellate counsel," Torhorst said.
Police were called to Tino's Carryout, 1100 Washington Ave., for a report that two people had been shot in the restaurant lobby, according to reports. Police found Robert Davis shot once in the back of the head at close range, according to the criminal complaint. They also found Willie King had been shot in the face. Davis later was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Blakemore pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree reckless homicide while armed and first-degree intentional homicide in September 2011, according to court records. In exchange, prosecutors dropped two other felony charges, that of armed robbery and intimidating a witness.
If convicted of homicide without the plea deal, he faced a maximum of life in prison.
Blakemore currently is in the Green Bay Correctional Institution, according to state prison records. He is scheduled to be released from prison onto extended supervision in October 2050.
By Kristen Zambo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: The Journal Times