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Man asks to remove plea

One of four set for sentencing

YOUNGSTOWN — One of the two young men convicted in a Rhoda Avenue murder on the West Side, who was scheduled for sentencing today, has asked to withdraw his guilty plea.

Both sentencings will be postponed, according to court records.

Mark Winlock Jr., 19, of Deer Creek Court in Austintown, pleaded guilty last month in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to the reduced charge of murder and would have gotten a sentence of 18-years-to-life in prison for the killing of Brandon Wareham, 18, of Austintown, March 3, 2018.

But Winlock filed a handwritten motion March 9 asking to withdraw his guilty plea. The filing cites court cases he believes support his desire to withdraw his plea.

The filing states a defendant should be able to withdraw a guilty plea in scenario where he was “not aware and counsel did not advise the defendant of a line of defenses.”

Instead of being sentenced today, the case is set for a pretrial hearing, a court official said.

Winlock is accused of firing the fatal shots as he and two other young men approached Wareham in a driveway. The males and others lured Wareham there by asking him to sell them marijuana.

The group formed a plan the day before to rob multiple marijuana dealers and had done so successfully once the night before, according to testimony from a co-defendant’s trial.

But Wareham started to back out of the driveway when the males approached, and Winlock fired a handgun, causing fatal wounds. All three males fled.

Co-defendant Michael Sherman, 21, took the case to trial and was convicted. He also was supposed to be sentenced today, but his sentencing hearing was canceled, according to court records.

Sherman will get a life prison sentence with parole eligibility after 23, 28 or 33 years.

One of his attorneys, Thomas Zena, filed a motion with Judge Anthony D’Apolito asking for Sherman to get the lowest possible sentence. The filing states that Sherman’s participation in the crime was less than others in the case, yet he will get the the most severe penalty.

Sherman refused to accept a plea agreement because of his “honest belief that he intended no criminal act or injury to the victim except participation in an act of theft,” Zena stated.

A third co-defendant, Daniel Sullivan II, 19, who testified at Sherman’s trial, reached a plea agreement that called for him getting 14 years in prison.

Judge D’Apolito also was set to sentence two other men today in a separate murder, but those sentencings also were postponed.

They are Brian Donlow Jr., 25, and Stephon Hopkins, 24, who were found guilty at trial of murder and being felons in possession of firearms and will each get a life prison sentence. They were convicted of killing Brandon Wylie, 30, at the Plaza View apartment complex June 18, 2018.

Court officials did not give a reason for the postponing the sentencings for Sherman, Hopkins and Donlow.

erunyan@tribtoday.com