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Cops and Courts

Defendant in SWAT shooting could lose attorney


    Martin Robinson appears in court on Thursday afternoon, February 7 for his pre-trial.


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    Martin Robinson appears in Lorain County Court of Common Pleas on Thursday afternoon for his pretrial hearing.



    Martin Robinson appears in court on Thursday afternoon, February 7 for his pre-trial.



ELYRIA — Martin Robinson has had two attorneys retained to represent him, but one withdrew from the case less than one day later and the other stated in open court he probably would withdraw from the case, as well.

Meanwhile, Robinson’s attempts to have his court-appointed attorney, John Toth, dismissed have been unsuccessful.

Robinson appeared before Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Chris Cook on Thursday for a final pretrial hearing before his trial, scheduled to begin Feb. 20.

Robinson, 40, of Sheffield Lake, was indicted on 22 felony counts for allegedly shooting and seriously wounding Amherst police Officer Eugene Ptacek in May during a SWAT standoff at Robinson’s home.

Earlier in the day Thursday, Cook granted a motion filed by attorney Fernando Mack to withdraw as Robinson’s attorney. Mack had been retained to represent Robinson less than a day prior, according to court documents.

Cook denied a motion by attorney J. Reid Yoder, an attorney from Akron who was retained by Robinson’s father, to continue Thursday’s pretrial hearing and the Feb. 20 trial to a later date.

The written ruling made by Cook said that he had to deny the motions due to Robinson’s having “asserted his speedy trial rights and demanded trial within the statutory time-frames.”

At the pretrial, Yoder stated that he doesn’t believe he can get up to speed and try the case in just 13 days’ time. He told Cook that he anticipates filing a motion to withdraw.

Robinson then tried to make an oral motion to dismiss Toth as his attorney. Cook said Robinson would need to file a written motion that the judge would then consider, but he said he hadn’t seen anything that would cause him to grant the motion.

“I have not seen, and that doesn’t mean there aren’t any, any issues in this case that would make me question attorney Toth, his commitment or his ability in any fashion,” Cook said. “In fact, I think he’s extremely qualified, very hardworking and a dedicated attorney who will fight for you and protect your rights to the extent that he can.”

Robinson said Toth has not filed motions that Robinson has asked him to file on his behalf, such as a motion to dismiss the case due to his speedy trial rights not being honored. When Cook told Robinson he would not second guess an attorney’s decisions regarding a case, the defendant accused Cook of being “impartial and biased” for the prosecution.

Multiple times Cook and Robinson verbally sparred, such as when Cook said he would only give Robinson a few more minutes in the courtroom.

“Do you have a prior engagement?” Robinson asked.

“Actually, I do,” Cook answered. “I have to be in Columbus.”

“Well, good for you,” Robinson said. “My prior engagement is back at the Lorain County Jail where my cell is cold.”

“I understand,” Cook said.

“You don’t understand!” Robinson said.

Robinson accused Cook of trying to rush through the hearing.

“This seems like a life sentence against me, with the amount of time I may have remaining on this earth,” Robinson said. “I think that my life needs to be a little more important, instead of trying to brush it along, which seems to be happening.”

Cook responded that the only reason the case is being rushed is because of Robinson’s own actions.

“Mr. Robinson, this court has no choice but to, I’m going to use your words, brush it along,” Cook said. “You’ve demanded a speedy trial, which is your statutory right. … You made the decision to enforce the speedy trial rights.”

Robinson then said he would waive his speedy trial rights, but Cook said he would need to receive a written motion from Robinson’s attorneys. Even then, Cook said it probably won’t change the Feb. 20 trial date, but he would consider it.

“As of right now, today, it’s not going to change my decision to continue to keep this trial set where it is,” Cook said. “I’m not going to inconvenience the court or the parties 13 days before this trial.”

Robinson appeared to not like that answer.

“Heaven forbid we inconvenience everyone else,” he said. “You know the inconvenience in my life? They came into my home, taking me — kidnapping me — from my home, falsely arresting me. … This isn’t directed at you, Judge Cook. This is the state, the government, the police, law enforcement, domestic terrorists, gang, whatever you want to call it. They had no problem inconveniencing my life.”

Contact Scott Mahoney at (440) 329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.

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