Trial postponed in East Side killing
The defendant's first lawyer was permitted to withdraw as defense counsel.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The trial of a city man accused of aggravated murder has been delayed to allow his new lawyer to prepare his defense.
Jury selection was scheduled to begin this week in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for the trial of Darrin Lamont Moore, 20, who is charged with killing Robert Smith, 29, of Eliot Lane on the city's East Side in December 2003.
Police say Smith was shot when he tried to stop people who stole his car from the parking lot of a nightclub on North Garland Avenue.
Before jury selection began, however, Judge James C. Evans had scheduled several pretrial motions to be heard. That is when some legal issues came up that led to the trial's postponement.
In his judgment entry, Judge Evans explained he met with Moore's lawyer, John P. Laczko, and assistant county prosecutors Timothy Franken and Dawn Krueger.
One issue was a complaint filed by Moore with the Ohio Supreme Court alleging improper action by Laczko. The court's assistant disciplinary counsel, however, dismissed the grievance, saying the claim of ineffective performance by a lawyer must be raised on appeal or in post-conviction pleadings.
Laczko said Moore's letter indicated ineffective assistance of counsel.
Further inquiry by Evans revealed that Moore now wanted Laczko to proceed with defending him. Moore told the judge the basis for his complaint to the high court involved allegations of speedy-trial violations.
A second issue was whether there was a breach of an agreement reached between the prosecutor's office and defense counsel.
Evans wrote that in February, an agreement had been reached that Moore would waive a hearing in juvenile court and agree to be bound over to the adult court if the prosecutor would agree not to pursue indicting Moore on charges of receiving stolen property, felonious assault and failure to comply with a police officer's order.
Moore had been an inmate at the Martin P. Joyce Juvenile Justice Center since Sept. 9, 2003.
Instead, when Moore's case went to the grand jury he was indicted on those charges.
Moore told Evans that was another problem he had in support of his complaint against Laczko. He argued that he "would not have waived his bindover hearing had he known the agreement he signed would not have been honored."
Evans held off ruling on all other pretrial motions, and to avoid any further conflict, he permitted Laczko to withdraw as defense counsel. Evans then appointed Atty. Ronald Yarwood to represent Moore.
The trial was delayed to allow Yarwood to prepare Moore's defense.
The aggravated murder charge carries a penalty of 20 years to life imprisonment upon conviction.