Gary lawyer convicted of attempted murder wants new attorney for sentencing
By Ruth Ann Krause Post-Tribune correspondent March 7, 2013 5:06PM
Updated: March 7, 2013 5:40PM
Gary defense attorney Jerry Peteet, who was convicted of attempted murder in a 2009 shooting outside a Gary restaurant, was rebuffed in his attempt to have a new defense attorney appointed to represent him for sentencing.
In a hand-written motion, Peteet blasted his lawyer, Darnail Lyles, alleging that Lyles had attempted to extort him and failed to adequately represent him. Peteet is being held in Warrenton, Mo., pending his April 23 sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
The day before Peteet’s pro se motion was filed seeking a new attorney, Lyles said he submitted an eight-page motion objecting to the federal probation department’s pre-sentence investigation report. Lyles said he argued that Peteet should face 50 to 60 months for what amounted to an aggravated battery, not the 292 months the report recommended.
Lyles said the judge rejected Peteet’s request for a new lawyer, noting that the judge had observed Lyles’ performance at pretrial hearings and during the eight-week trial and found that he worked diligently and was highly professional.
In his motion, Peteet said Lyles was paid $10,000 around June and $8,000 about one month later toward the agreed fee of $50,000 plus expenses, but that Lyles refused to provide legal representation because of the inability of Peteet and his family to pay Lyles over and above the amount Lyles received from the federal public defender fund.
Peteet’s motion states that he contacted Lyles in mid-July to review discovery, plan a defense and prepare for the trial that began in October, but Lyles refused to return his calls. Lyles then filed a motion to withdraw and told Peteet he needed $100,000 plus expenses up front to stay on the case.
Peteet said Lyles told him he would return $8,000 and keep $10,000. Sometime later, Peteet’s motion indicates he learned the judge wouldn’t let Lyles out of the case. Lyles then informed Peteet he would represent him and let him know how much money he needed, plus expenses.
Peteet said he provided transportation and covered all expenses for about five trips to Missouri and $45 per day for three or four days a week for Lyles’ meals, $1,500 per month for two months for rent for an apartment the two shared during the trial and $300 for groceries.
Peteet said Lyles told him in November he wanted $12,000, in addition to the $18,000, to offset his estimated loss from being away from his Gary law office.
“Defendant hesitated but was advised by Darnail that his work, performance and success was based upon his money and nothing else,” Peteet wrote, complaining that he was “consistently hounded” for the $12,000 and alleging Lyles showed a “pattern of corruption aimed at stealing money from the government and the defendant.” Since his conviction, Peteet said, Lyles has called once to discuss taking over Peteet’s clients who have bond money available to cover legal services.
Peteet also criticized Lyles’ trial preparation. “Darnail’s performance as the court witnessed was less than stellar but for several attempts to embarrass the government, which was juvenile,” Peteet wrote.
Lyles said he had planned to handle Peteet’s appeal and considered Peteet a friend.