Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — Cornelius Redden III insists that he has “fired” his public defender and hired a new lawyer.
The only hitch for the Falls gangbanger is that the new attorney still hasn’t shown up at the Niagara County courthouse.
Redden was in court Tuesday and assured Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas that he had retained a new defense lawyer, but that she was “unable to be here today.” The Falls teen, with a lengthy and violent criminal history, did not disclose the name of his new attorney, but Farkas did give him one more postponement to get the mystery lawyer to the courthouse.
The judge has been waiting for a new attorney, to replace Redden’s court-appointment public defender, before sentencing him to up to eight years in prison for his guilty plea to assault, weapons and drug charges.
In a motion, filed on the same day he took a deal from prosecutors in August, Redden asked Farkas to allow him to withdraw his plea to charges of attempted fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second-degree assault and attempted second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Redden, 18, has had more than a month to find a new lawyer and to determine if that new attorney would be willing to continue with his attempt to withdraw his pleas.
A known street gang member, who has a history of violence and drug-related arrests dating back to his early teens, Redden had accepted the plea deal to close three pending cases against him. The attempted drug possession charge he originally agreed to was tied to an October bust that caught him with a significant quantity of crack cocaine.
The assault charge was tied to a May 10 shooting of a rival drug dealer and the weapons charge stemmed from a June 2 incident where he accidentally shot himself.
As part of the deal, Farkas agreed to sentence Redden to no more than 7 years in prison for the assault and weapons charges and no more than one and a half years on the drug charge.
Redden had repeatedly rejected the plea offer and appeared sullen and uncooperative when he took the plea. At one point during that proceedings, Redden told Farkas he felt he was being pushed by his defense attorney, a public defender, to take the plea deal.
“There was a lot of pressure on me from my lawyers,” he told the judge.
However, when the judge said she would not go forward with the plea, if he had been pressured, Redden retracted the claim and agreed to the deal.
Redden is currently serving five years probation for a series of robberies he was convicted of when he was just 16. He was sentenced in that case as a youthful offender.
First Assistant District Attorney Doreen Hoffmann noted, during the plea proceeding, that Redden was on probation when he was arrested on the drug charge and out on bail from the drug charge when he shot the rival dealer and himself.
In August 2011, Redden was also charged in connection with an attack on another inmate at the Niagara County Jail.