Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

April 2, 2012

Man asks to withdraw plea

By Joe Olenick
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

TOWN OF LOCKPORT — A Town of Lockport man who pleaded guilty last month to attempted first-degree criminal sexual act now wants to withdraw that plea.

Shawn McNew, 40, of Fernwood Drive, was in Niagara County Court on Monday to ask Judge Matthew J. Murphy for the withdrawal. Murphy said he will issue a written decision on the withdrawal before the previously scheduled sentencing date of May 7.

McNew’s lawyer, David Blackley, said his client wanted to withdraw the plea because McNew had indicated he was confused about some details about the deal.

“He stated he was unclear about the plea, he said he felt rushed,” Blackley said.

McNew pleaded guilty on Feb. 9 to attempted first-degree criminal sexual act. According to the arrest report, McNew sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl in September.

With the plea, McNew would face a state prison sentence ranging from three and a half to 15 years, as well as up to 15 years of post release supervision, Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Donatello said.

Blackley said McNew thought the sentence would range from one to two years under the plea. Donatello disagreed, citing the transcript of the Feb. 9 hearing where McNew agreed to the plea.

“There is absolutely nothing to support that,” Donatello said.

According to the transcript, McNew went through a line of questioning that Murphy has each defendant go through if they’re taking a plea deal. Among the questions defendants are asked is whether or not they were promised another sentence.

And to that, McNew answered no, Donatello said. That was McNew’s response when asked if he had been rushed and if he had enough time to speak with his attorney.

Donatello added that Blackley and herself had a conversation about the plea deal with McNew at the Niagara County Jail. Nothing in the transcript indicated a sentence range of one to two years, Donatello said, something Blackley agreed with.

Donatello said a counselor had called the court to confirm what a relative of McNew’s had said about sentencing. What the relative said was the sentence ranged from three and a half to 15 years in state prison.

Along with the line of questioning, Murphy said he often gives additional time if needed, so defendants aren’t rushed or pressured to agree to a plea deal. 

Contact reporter Joe Olenickat 439-9222, ext. 6241.