Plea Change in Attack That Paralyzed a Mo. Officer

The man who was supposed to be sentenced today for the 2010 shooting that left a Rock Hill police officer paralyzed has told a judge he changed his mind and wants to withdraw his plea.


Sept. 19--CLAYTON -- The man who was supposed to be sentenced today for the 2010 shooting that left a Rock Hill police officer paralyzed has told a judge he changed his mind and wants to withdraw his plea.

George I. Jones, 39, entered a plea of "no-contest" to assault and other charges on the second day of his trial on July 31. That plea means he acknowledged that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him.

He was to be sentenced today and stood to get a punishment of as few as three years in prison to as many as consecutive sentences of life in prison. There was no plea deal made with prosecutors.

Rock Hill Police Officer Matt Crosby was shot April 8, 2010, while responding to a domestic disturbance in the 1100 block of Raritan Drive in Rock Hill. A bullet struck Crosby in the left shoulder and lodged in his spine, paralyzing him.

Since his trial, however, Jones has tried to fire his lawyer and has now filed his own motion with the judge to withdraw his plea. The judge is Gloria Clark Reno.

Reno has scheduled sentencing for 10 a.m. Monday in Clayton and will hear the motion then. Jones will try to convince the judge he was under pressure to make the plea and that his lawyer provided ineffective counsel.

In his typewritten motion, Jones argues he wasn't ready for trial and that his lawyer warned him that if he lost at trial he would get life in prison. His lawyer told him the case was indefensible. Jones gave this account of their conversation:

"When my counsel approached me, his first words were, we have a problem, a big problem: The prosecutor did a background check on our (forensics) expert ... and found some things that's going to kill his credibility, which will kill our case," Jones wrote.

Jones claims his lawyer went on to say that the judge mentioned she would give Jones a 25-year sentence and he'd be free from prison in his 50s.

Jones says his plea was "induced by misapprehension, fear and misleading persuasion based on holding out of hopes that were ill founded by ineffective counsel."

The attorney, Eric V. Barnhart, declined comment on Wednesday.

Copyright 2012 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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