Man gets rid of attorney in murder case


By Joe Gorman

jgorman@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A judge told Jermaine Tubbs on Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court – just before Tubbs fired his attorney before his trial started – the facts of the case will not change regardless of who represents him.

Tubbs’ attorney, Tony Meranto, told Judge Anthony D’Apolito he told his client the same thing after Tubbs turned down a plea offer Tuesday, as well as one on Monday.

Jurors were waiting to be selected for Tubbs’ murder trial.

Meranto, who was court-appointed, said if a new lawyer took the case that would not change the way the case could be tried from a defense standpoint because that does not affect the evidence prosecutors have.

“I guess he’d [Tubbs] rather have a fairy tale than the truth,” Meranto said.

Judge D’Apolito granted Tubbs’ request and picked a pretrial date of Monday in the case, where Tubbs is expected to bring in a new attorney. If he does not, the judge will appoint an attorney for him.

Tubbs is accused of the April 11 death of Michael Brooks, 52, who was shot and killed during a domestic dispute outside an apartment on Dupont Street on the North Side.

Tubbs is charged with murder with a firearm specification and being a felon in possession of a weapon.

Judge D’Apolito told Tubbs that Meranto is one of the area’s best defense attorneys and he got his services at no cost. The judge asked Tubbs how he would pay for his own lawyer. Tubbs said he would get the money from his mother.

Judge D’Apolito asked Tubbs if his mother would be able to afford a lawyer, noting a defense attorney for a murder trial could command fees of $15,000. Tubbs said since almost a year has lapsed since his arrest in the case, perhaps his mother does have the money. But he admitted he was not 100 percent sure.

Judge D’Apolito explained to Tubbs if he changed attorneys, the prosecutor’s offer – a flat 20 years in prison as opposed to a maximum of 21 years to life – would be taken off the table forever. He said the offer is the best he would probably get.

“One thing you need to understand is there’s a difference between a lawyer you don’t like and an offer you don’t like,” Judge D’Apolito told him.

Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Trapp told the judge the plea offer was being withdrawn, but Tubbs was adamant he wanted to change attorneys.

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