Man withdraws guilty plea in murder case, faces trial
By Ruth Ann Krause Post-Tribune correspondent October 30, 2012 3:06PM
Maurice Beckham. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media ptmet
Updated: December 1, 2012 4:43PM
A man who pleaded guilty but mentally ill to a murder charge withdrew his guilty plea and now is going to trial.
Maurice Danyeal Beckham, 30, of Gary, had admitted in court on Sept. 18 that he shot and killed Dominique Greenlaw-Pittman, 25, by shooting him in the head on Nov. 7, 2011, as the men sat outside Greenlaw-Pittman’s car in the 2100 block of Baker Street.
In court on Tuesday, however, defense attorney Alex Woloshansky said his client contacted him after the hearing and said he didn’t commit the crime. Woloshansky urged Lake Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. to allow his client to withdraw the plea in the interest of justice. Woloshansky said there were no witnesses to the shooting itself and that when Beckham was arrested at a family member’s home across the street from the scene, no gun was found.
Deputy prosecutor Monica Rogina noted that the judge went to great lengths to ensure Beckham understood what he was doing when he submitted the plea agreement. The case was called more than once to allow Beckham time to confer with Woloshansky and have time to decide whether he wanted to go forward with the agreement, which capped Beckham’s sentence at 55 years.
During that hearing, Beckham would not admit he has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, so that fact was established through documents.
“It is my feeling and belief that due to the defendant’s mental illness, to deny the defense motion would allow the case to be set aside on appeal or post-conviction relief,” Stefaniak said.
Beckham’s case is set for jury trial April 22.