Attorneys go back and forth about extension in Jones' re-sentencing trial

Mar. 14—JEFFERSON — Ashtabula County Common Pleas Judge David Schroeder grew impatient with prosecutors Monday as he presided over the fourth status conference regarding convicted cop killer Odraye Jones' re-sentencing trial.

Prosecutors and defense argued back and forth for a good part of an hour about who should file a motion to extend the April 3 deadline for Jones' re-sentencing trial.

County Prosecutor Colleen O'Toole said the state motioned for vacancy of sentence, which was denied by the court. Consequently, she believes the defense should do it.

"The state is ready to go forward on April 3," she said. "We are not responsible for defense obligations."

Lead defense attorney, John B. Juhasz Jr., said he thought the state was going to file the motion.

"It's not satisfactory for the defense to go forward on April 3," he said.

Over and over again, the state and defense repeated their positions until Juhasz said, "It's like two cars playing chicken and we are riding in the backseat."

Schroeder called it "a game of legal chicken."

"We put forward what we thought was the best option," O'Toole said, referring to a motion to vacate the sentence.

The court was obviously displeased.

"This is the fourth attempt to focus on the extension of time," Schroeder said, noting he doesn't understand why a joint motion for an extension wasn't done.

He also pointed out that O'Toole was not present at the previous two status hearings.

Finally, O'Toole agreed to file a joint motion with the defense and the defense also agreed.

That's when Jones, who had remained silent thus far, spoke out, "You've denied my right to defend myself."

"It'll be addressed at a later date," Schroeder said.

Jones said, "You denied my right."

Schroeder went on to say he's received copies of the results of Jones' competency exams.

Juhasz said he believes he needs to get a second opinion on competency, but most doctors can not be available by April 3.

Jones objected, insisting he's competent to defend himself.

"We just want this case resolved," O'Toole said. "Right now he's competent."

Jones said, "Exactly!"

Jones, now 46, was sentenced to death in 1998 by an Ashtabula County jury for shooting and killing Ashtabula Police officer William D. Glover Jr.

Last year, that sentence was revoked by an appellate court, which found that the testimony of a clinical psychologist was racist and should have been challenged by Jones' attorneys during the penalty phase of his trial.

The appellate court determined the conviction still stands, but Jones has the right to a new sentencing trial — to be held within 180 days, which falls on May 16.

All parties agreed the trial will take at least a month, so they set it to begin on April 3.

Schroeder also addressed the issue of jury questionnaires.

"I haven't submitted jury questionnaires," Jones said.

Ignoring Jones' tendency to speak out of turn, Schroeder ordered both sides to sit down and cross off duplicate questions.

O'Toole suggested that since Jones hopes to represent himself at trial, he should get copies of all paperwork so he's up to speed. All parties agreed.

The judge also reminded defense attorneys and prosecutors of a gag order, preventing them from talking to the media.

He chided O'Toole for talking to the media in the past. She said she didn't say anything that wasn't said in open court.

Schroeder repeated that there is no talking to the media. Period.

The next status conference is set for 1:30 p.m. March 31.