ELYRIA — The search could be on for an attorney to represent a Lorain man facing the death penalty after he has stated he no longer wants to waive his right to a speedy trial.
Jocquez Ross, 29, was indicted on aggravated murder and other charges in connection with the fatal shooting of Michael Lewis and his wife, Fannie Lewis. If convicted, Ross could face the death penalty.
On Wednesday, though, shortly before a scheduled pretrial hearing in the case, Ross told his attorney, Kreig Brusnahan, that he would no longer waive time in his case. Ross was indicted in January 2017 and has been waiving his right to a speedy trial.
If Ross decides to not waive his speedy trial rights, it probably will cost him his attorney.
“As the court knows, I’ve been doing this for quite a long time,” Brusnahan said. “I know how long it will take me to effectively prepare this case for trial. It can’t happen before January of next year.”
Brusnahan said he’ll have no choice but to withdraw as Ross’ attorney.
“There’s no way that I’ll be able to effectively prepare this case for trial without a speedy trial waiver,” he said. “I just explained to Mr. Ross that if it’s his desire to not waive speedy trial, I’m going to ask to withdraw from the case. I can’t be put in that situation where I don’t have appropriate time to prepare for trial.”
Judge Christopher Rothgery said he would continue the pretrial in one week.
“During that time period, I’m going to give you the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of your client’s decision with him, and I will consider a motion to withdraw at that point (Tuesday), if it’s still his inclination to do so.”
Rothgery said he’ll try to find an attorney that will take a death-penalty case without a time waiver, but he said, “I have a feeling it isn’t going to be easy.”
A similar situation arose last year when John Rowan was indicted on capital murder charges in connection with the killing of Harold Litten in North Ridgeivlle. Rowan declined to waive his speedy trial rights and multiple attorneys, including Brusnahan, withdrew from representing the defendant before attorneys Kenneth Lieux and David Doughten were appointed and convinced Rowan to waive time.
Rowan eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for at least 30 years.
Ross is accused of shooting Michael and Fannie Lewis in their rented Chevrolet Traverse on Fox Hill Lane on Jan. 31, 2016. Elyria police responding to reports of gunshots found the couple both dead of gunshot wounds.
Police and prosecutors have said little about the motive for the slaying, although they believe the couple was targeted. They also have said they were examining a connection with drugs because Michael Lewis had been under indictment on drug charges at the time of his death.
Ross is scheduled to appear before Rothgery on Tuesday. He is being held in Lorain County Jail without bond, according to jail records.
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