Judge denies defendant’s request for new attorney

LISBON –One of nine people charged with alleged involvement in a drug-dealing ring in the Salem area has filed his own motion asking for a new attorney.

Antonio Torres, Jr., 29, also known as AT, is charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity in a group of 17 people including the alleged leader, Tiona L. Jones. The charge is a first-degree felony.

The superseding indictment further accuses those involved in the enterprise were directly or indirectly involved in committing on two or more occasions at least one of the following violations: trafficking in heroin and cocaine, conspiracy to trafficking in drugs, possession of drugs, felonious assault, complicity to felonious assault, money laundering, aggravated burglary, complicity to aggravated burglary, intimidation of a witness, permitting drug abuse, aggravated menacing and assault.

Torres was one of several defendants who had been appointed defense counsel and in his case he was appointed Peter Horvath.

At a hearing last week before Judge Scott Washam in Common Pleas Court, Torres at first said he wanted to keep Horvath, but then changed his mind and reiterated a written motion he had previously filed requesting new counsel.

Torres’ change of mind came after Washam told him that he would not rule on motions Torres filed for himself when he has legal counsel. That led Torres to question that if he needs a motion filed and Horvath refuses to file it, Washam would not rule on one even if Torres files it. Washam agreed that was how it was.

“I’m fighting for my life for something I’m innocent of,” Torres said. “It’s been 10 months. How do I get him off my case.”

Washam said he would not release Horvath as Torres’ appointed attorney, stating he has not heard anything which sounds like a breakdown in communications between them. Instead Washam noted Horvath is obligated to listen to his client’s requests and give him his best advice when it comes to whether or not to file something.

Chief Assistant County Prosecutor John Gamble noted there have been more motions filed in Torres’ case than the other co-defendants.

Torres still seemed unsatisfied with the answers of Washam before he left the courtroom after learning that unless he wants to hire a different attorney, he does not have the right to pick his appointed counsel.

“I have to go through this entire thing with this man, who I don’t want to represent me,” he said.

The jury trial against Torres and several of his co-defendants is scheduled for early April.