A plea deal that had been in the works for an East High student charged with sex crimes involving young children is off because the young man's parents plan to get rid of the teen's current lawyer and hire someone else.
The 16-year-old appeared before 3rd District Judge Dane Nolan Tuesday at a pretrial conference in which both prosecutors and defense attorneys were going to present a plea bargain in which the teen would plead guilty to two counts of class A misdemeanor lewdness involving a child.
He originally was charged with two counts of attempted sodomy on a child, a second-degree felony; two counts of aggravated assault, a third-degree felony; and lewdness involving a child, also a third-degree felony.
Since no plea agreement was reached Tuesday, the tougher charges still stand.
The teen's parents told the judge that they had talked to a private lawyer, Howard Stone, and planned to hire him to replace defense attorney Russell Pietryga.
The teen's mother wept as she told the judge that she thought Pietryga was a good lawyer, but "didn't seem interested in my son's case" and she doesn't think her son is being treated fairly.
Nolan expressed concern that getting a new lawyer at this stage means the teen will spend more time in juvenile detention. The judge also said he was concerned that delays in this case could interfere with a sexual behavior risk assessment, which will determine where he will be placed in the juvenile justice system and what type of treatment he will receive.
However, Nolan told the family that the teen and his parents have every right to hire a new lawyer if they choose.
The judge set a new pretrial date for March 18.The teen currently is in juvenile detention after he was convicted last month in a separate school-related hazing case. He was convicted of forcible sexual abuse and attempted forcible sodomy, both first-degree felonies, and class A misdemeanor lewdness.