A judge ordered a new trial for the defendant accused of attacking two Savannah College of Art and Design students, saying the public defender let his ego interfere with the defense in the first trial, Jan Skutch of the Savannah Morning News reported Wednesday.
Chatham County Superior Court Judge Timothy R. Walmsley ruled that Assistant Public Defense John Rodman had “acted deficiently” in representing his client during plea negotiations, the newspaper reported. In a 13-page order, the judge found the attorney’s “actions were not in the best interest of his client, but rather based primarily on his individual desire to win,” the newspaper said.
“Lawyers want to win their cases,” Walmsley wrote. “Unfortunately, some step across the line and try to win at all costs. In so doing they forget the rules of professional conduct and place their interest above the best interest of their client.”
The report says the client, Raynard Lamar Lexie, was convicted last year of aggravated sodomy, kidnapping, aggravated assault, armed robbery and burglary in a 2012 home invasion of two SCAD students. Lexie was sentenced to life in prison with 25 years to serve, the newspaper said.
Walmsley wrote in his order that prosecutors offered Lexie a plea for time served and 12 years probation under the First Offender Act for guilty pleas to two counts of aggravated assault, an offer Rodman rejected in five minutes “because you’ve got the wrong guy.” The newspaper reported that the judge said no evidence was presented to show that Rodman discussed the offer with his client.
Rodman told the Daily Report on Thursday, “There is obviously more to this story than has been reported at this point.”
“Out of respect for the rules and for my client, I cannot comment at this time,” he said, adding that he supports the client “in his efforts to seek justice.”
Rodman said the public defender’s office has retained Savannah solo defense attorney Richard Darden to represent Lexie in the second trial, designating the case as a conflict for the staff attorneys.