FRONT ROYAL — Two months after a court handed him a life sentence, Joseph Trejo returned to a courtroom and asked a judge to revive his case of sexual assault.
Trejo, 30, of Front Royal, pleaded guilty to charges of rape of a child under the age of 13 and sodomy in Warren County Circuit Court in October as part of a deal with the commonwealth’s attorney to take the mandatory minimums for his charges off the table. Trejo cooperated with police after the alleged incident and his statements weighed heavily in his attorney’s decision to work out a plea deal for his client.
The plea deal resulted in Trejo receiving the maximum sentence allowed, life sentences for each felony, but did not require the mandatory life sentence, meaning Trejo could be released on parole many years in the future.
However, after receiving his sentence, Trejo submitted two motions to the court to withdraw his guilty plea and to receive a new attorney.
Judge William Sharp was told Monday by Trejo that he didn’t feel he was represented to the fullest and that his attorney did not fully explain the nature of the charges against him.
Sharp reminded Trejo that when he offered his guilty plea the court asked him whether he understood the charges. Trejo said he was not honest with the court at the time when he said he understood.
In a written letter to the court that Trejo submitted on Nov. 25, he asked the court to appoint him a new attorney. Dan O'Brien, the public defender assigned to Trejo’s case, submitted a motion of his own to request being removed from Trejo’s case because of a breakdown in the relationship between himself and his client.
Sharp granted the motion to appoint a new attorney and said there would be another hearing to consider Trejo revoking his previous plea of guilty. Sharp said he was “skeptical” that there was a basis to take back the plea, but due to the serious consequences of the crime, he would allow a hearing and scheduled it with time for Trejo to consult with his new attorney.
Bryan Layton, the commonwealth’s attorney for Warren County, said he will be opposing the motion to withdraw the guilty plea, arguing the matter had been finalized.
If the motion is granted, Layton said he will be prosecuting on the mandatory minimum life sentences -- with no possibility of parole -- that he declined as part of the Trejo’s plea deal. Layton said his office also will bring at least five new charges it didn’t prosecute previously, each of which carry mandatory minimum sentences of life.
Trejo will appear in court at 9 a.m. Dec. 20 for his hearing to determine whether the court will allow him to withdraw his guilty plea.