By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — A Falls teen, who faces up to eight years in prison for his guilty plea to assault, weapons and drug charges, wants to take back his plea and get rid of his court-appointed lawyer.
In a motion, filed on the same day he took a deal from prosecutors, Cornelius Redden, 18, has asked Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon 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.
He also wants to "fire" his public defender.
In a brief proceeding on Wednesday, Farkas gave Redden two weeks to hire a new lawyer and to determine if that new attorney would be willing to continue with the attempt to withdraw the plea.
Redden, who has a history of violence and drug-related arrests dating back to his mid-teens, 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 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 as he prepared to take the plea in early August. At one point during the proceedings, Redden told Farkas he felt he was being pushed by his attorneys 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.