ELYRIA — The search for defense counsel to represent a Parma man facing capital murder charges has finally come to an end.
Defense attorney Kenneth Lieux formally agreed to take on the case Wednesday after being provisionally appointed to represent John Rowan by Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Chris Cook earlier this week. Rowan, 37, of Parma, also agreed to waive his right to a speedy trial, which his prior refusal to do so had caused other defense attorneys to decline representing him.
Lieux also chose his second chair co-counsel for the case, attorney David Doughton. While Doughton was unable to appear in court Wednesday due to a scheduling conflict in federal court, he did meet with Rowan earlier in the day, according to Lieux.
“We did have a chance to discuss the issues that are pertinent to the court here today — the representation issue as well as the trial-date issue and the speedy-trial issues,” Lieux said. “After consulting with Mr. Rowan, he advised me and Mr. Doughton that he would be willing to work with us. He indicated he would be agreeable to signing the time waiver. We had talked about a trial date scheduled in July, and he’s agreeable to that date.”
Rowan’s trial is now set to begin July 30.
Rowan had originally refused to waive his right to a speedy trial, and the start date of the trial had been set for Jan. 10. Defense attorneys had expressed concern about their ability to provide effective counsel for Rowan on such serious charges in such a short amount of time.
Rowan pleaded not guilty to the 16-count indictment during his arraignment last week. He faces charges of aggravated murder, kidnapping, felonious assault, abuse of a corpse and other charges in connection to the death of Harold Litten, of North Ridgeville. The state of Ohio is seeking the death penalty in the case.
Cook expressed his appreciation of Lieux and Doughton taking on the case.
“This court was fully prepared to either try the case as ordered or extend the case, if necessary, to protect your constitutional rights to counsel, but there’s not two more qualified, outstanding lawyers to assist you, and they will do their best to prepare this case and protect your rights,” Cook said. “The state will also move forward with two of their top, experienced prosecutors.”
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