Gholston’s request for continuance so he can obtain private counsel rejected; first-degree murder case remains on January docket
QUINCY — A Quincy man facing three counts of first-degree murder did not accept a plea deal on Friday, and his hopes of obtaining private counsel before his case goes to a jury next month is in question.
Devere Gholston, 27, appeared in Adams County Circuit Court on Friday afternoon before Judge Debra Wellborn. Gholston is represented by public defenders Babette Brennan and John Citro.
Gholston also faces one count of residential burglary and one count of robbery in the beating death of 67-year-old Robert Schmidt, who died Feb. 17 in his home at 3219 Gross Gables. Hayden Schmidt, 16, also faces three counts of first-degree murder for his connection with the same incident.
Brennan told Wellborn that Gholston wants to hire private counsel and that his family has been saving money to pay for it. His family contacted three attorneys, and Brennan said one had a conflict, and one refused to take the case for health reasons. However, the family contacted an attorney with Vig Law in Springfield.
“(The attorney) has to speak to a client before they can accept the case,” Brennan said. “They have arranged for a call on Tuesday. We anticipate he will have private counsel, so we are asking to take this off the jury docket.”
Jones objected, saying the case was filed Feb. 17 and Gholston has had a year to hire private counsel.
“We were just here two weeks ago, and I told the court that we were extending an offer until Dec. 9, and on Dec. 9, we were going to pull that offer,” Jones said. “If he did not accept the offer, we were ready to go to trial. Gholston did not bring up anything about private counsel on Nov. 28, which was again, not even two weeks. Mr. Gholston had plenty of time to hire private counsel.
“What could conceivably happen is that we continue (the case) and the court strikes it from the January docket. We go two weeks, and this attorney doesn’t appear, and we’re right back where we are. We should not be granting continuances based on some hypothetical attorney who hasn’t entered, hasn’t appeared and isn’t here today.”
An unidentified woman in the courtroom then said, “We just got the money.”
Wellborn then denied the continuance and kept the case on the Jan. 9 jury docket.
“If (Gholston) does obtain private counsel, (the trial) is still a month away,” she said.
Citro and Brennan spoke briefly with Gholston, then spoke briefly with Jones. Citro then asked Wellborn, “Could we have a moment?”
Jones then left the courtroom with the two defense attorneys, and Brennan called for a recess.
As the attorneys talked outside the courtroom, Gholston turned to the three people in the courtroom and said, “I told you all this was going to happen.”
The attorneys returned to the courtroom, and Jones reiterated to Brennan that he was asking for the case to remain set for jury trial on Jan. 9. However, he said he would remain in the courthouse, and the plea deal he made to Gholston would not be rescinded until the end of the business day.
“I also will be here,” Wellborn said. “So if that is true, I can make myself available.”
However, when contacted about 4:30 p.m., Jones said nothing more would happen Friday.
Hayden Schmidt allegedly struck Robert Schmidt in the head with a firearm. Gholston allegedly was in the vehicle that drove Hayden Schmidt to the house.
Gholston faces between 35 years and 75 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections if a jury finds him guilty on any of the murder counts. He also faces two aggravated battery charges, both Class 3 felonies, in another case.
Gholston remains in the Adams County Jail on $10 million bond.
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