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Published: Friday, 5/31/2013

Teen withdraws guilty plea after attorney swap

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

“With great reluctance,” a Lucas County judge on Thursday allowed a Toledo teen to withdraw her guilty plea to charges she fired a gun into a group of girls last summer.

Common Pleas Judge Dean Mandros cited defense attorney Omar Shaaban’s failure to fulfill his duties as legal counsel to Mecca Canty.

“It boggles the mind how someone could stand up in court and expect to represent any defendant — regardless of his or her age — as to serious charges like this without having a discussion with his client beforehand, let alone whether he has interviewed witnesses,” the judge said.

Ms. Canty, 18, of 1812 Brame Pl. was indicted by a Lucas County grand jury in January on five counts of felonious assault, each with a gun specification, for a Sept. 23 incident that occurred when she was 17. Prosecutors alleged Ms. Canty got out of a sport-utility vehicle and fired six times into a group of girls on Isherwood Avenue, shattering one girl’s shoulder. She later was certified to stand trial as an adult.

While Frank Spryszak, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, argued that Ms. Canty pleaded guilty after seeing two of the victims in court and knowing they would implicate her in the crime, her new attorney, Ronnie Wingate, told the court Ms. Canty had almost no contact with Mr. Shaaban and entered the plea because he led her to believe she could be sentenced to as little as a year in prison.

Mr. Wingate said Mr. Shabaan did not meet with her even once between January and March 11, when she was held at the juvenile detention center. In addition, Mr. Shabaan did not obtain the transcript of her certification hearing to hear what evidence had been presented before her April 22 trial date, when she pleaded guilty to two counts of felonious assault, Mr. Wingate said.

Judge Mandros said he found it “most problematic” that her attorney “didn’t at all make any efforts to keep in contact with his client” and said it was troubling that Mr. Shaaban did not take the time to get and review the juvenile-court transcript.

A new trial was scheduled for Aug. 8. Judge Mandros ordered that Ms. Canty remain in the Lucas County jail in lieu of $120,000 bond.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.



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