Judge Refuses to Lessen Sentence in Officer Beating Case21-Jan-2013
The brutal beating of Officer Chad Peery outside an Oklahoma City bar provoked outrage across the metro area. Officer Peery was left paralyzed in the assault, and the three men accused in the attack were convicted and sentenced to several years in prison. Jimmy Don Smith, 30, Tuttle, and Joshua Rinken, 30, Norman, were accused of each accepted a plea deal and were sentenced to ten years in prison followed by ten years of probation. Rinken was accused of holding Peery in a headlock while Smith punched him. A third man, Cadmio Lopez, 33, of Newcastle, was accused of preventing others from coming to the officer's assistance. Lopez rejected the plea offer but pleaded guilty. Although he never struck Officer Peery, Lopez was sentenced to fifteen years in prison followed by fifteen years of probation, five years greater than the men who physically assaulted Peery but took a plea bargain.
After receiving a greater sentence than his associates, Cadmio Lopez requested that Oklahoma County District Court Judge Kenneth C. Watson reduce his sentence to match the sentences of Smith and Rinken. Judge Watson refused, saying, "I'm not of the mind to change what I've already done," and noting Officer Peery's comments that he feels Lopez is as culpable as the other two men.
Previously, Lopez attempted to withdraw his guilty plea, but the judge denied the withdrawal, and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the ruling. Lopez's attorney says that prosecutors are punishing his client because he initially rejected a plea offer and then changed his mind. The words of First Assistant District Attorney Scott Rowland seem to support the defense's claim: "He took his chances and pleaded guilty, was sentenced, and now he wishes he had taken the original offer. It's that simple."
A skillful attorney will counsel clients as to the best course of action in negotiating, accepting, or refusing a plea deal. However, even in cases where a defendant pleads guilty, there may be grounds for the withdrawal of a guilty plea or for appeal of a sentence. A successful appeal does not mean that a person is exonerated of a crime and set free. Rather, there are several possible results of a criminal appeal. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals may:
- Reverse a judgment or sentence
- Modify a judgment or sentence
- Affirm a judgment or sentence
- Order a new trial
- Order re-sentencing
If a case is remanded to trial court, the Court of Appeals will likely provide specific instructions for re-trial or re-sentencing. If the judgment or sentence is affirmed, a defendant may have addition appellate options for post-conviction relief. To find an Oklahoma appellate lawyer to handle your criminal appeal, please visit our website at OklahomaLegalGroup.com/appeals.
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