GOSHEN — A judge has postponed sentencing for a man who admitted to child molesting, then fired his attorney on the claim that he misled him.
David Wright, 43, was arrested in June 2018 and charged with two counts of child molesting as a Level 1 felony and one count as a Level 4 felony. He was booked in the Elkhart County Correctional Facility on $160,000 bond.
The warrant for his arrest was issued after an investigation by the Elkhart County Sheriff's Office into claims made by the victims, who were both under age 12. They indicated Wright had been molesting them beginning sometime after March 2015.
He denied the accusations, but told police he may have touched one of the victims accidentally while searching for the TV remote in her bed.
He pleaded guilty in April to one of the Level 1 felony counts, in an agreement that caps his overall sentence at 30 years. That's 10 years below the maximum sentence for a Level 1 felony.
Under the terms of the plea, he would spend eight years in the Indiana Department of Corrections followed by up to 16 years more on home detention.
Wright's sentencing was scheduled for Thursday in Elkhart County Superior Court 3. But ahead of his sentencing, he and his lawyer informed the court that they were having irreconcilable differences.
Attorney Nathaniel Henson said he learned soon after Wright entered his plea that he wanted to withdraw it, and that it was clear there was a breakdown in their attorney/client relationship.
Wright told the judge in a handwritten letter that his attorney "has deceived, misled and misguided me throughout the entire 10 months and has done absolutely nothing."
"I was 'duped,' your honor, into signing a plea deal because I was told there was no hope for this case — placing a mountain of doubt that I would have any chance of proving my innocence," he wrote to Judge Teresa Cataldo. "I was taken advantage of while hurried into signing a plea deal."
Wright also claimed that his judgment and decision-making abilities were diminished both by the length of his incarceration and by the amount of aspartame he consumed while in jail. The chemical is an artificial sweetener.
"As you understand, your honor, aspartame affects neurons in the brain, creating an imbalance of normal and rational thought processes," he wrote.
Court records show that at the hearing Thursday, Wright told Cataldo that his relationship with his attorney couldn't be repaired. The judge allowed Henson to withdraw as his representation.
Prosecutors asked that sentencing be carried out at the hearing, but Cataldo reset it to Sept. 12. She also set a hearing for July 25 so Wright could say if he had found a new attorney.