Ky’Andrea Cook did not cry this time, not even tears of joy, when a judge struck down her 20-year prison sentence after ruling that he found her plea to be an injustice.
Circuit Judge Matt Foxman had stunned the 18-year-old Mainland High School student when he sentenced her June 27 to two decades behind bars for a carjacking and battery in which a man was shot and seriously injured.
Foxman on Monday allowed her to withdraw her no contest plea, striking down her sentence. Her case goes back on the docket as if she had never agreed to anything.
Cook took the stand Monday and testified that her assistant public defender, Frank Scott, had assured her the day before her sentencing that she would not be going to prison and that at most she would get community control or probation.
Cook told her new defense attorney Steven Robinson that she was happy before her court date because Scott had told her she was going home.
“He told me that the state was offering community control and that he promised me that I was going home. It was around 1:40. He said around this time tomorrow you’ll be walking out the gate, to go home, finish school,” Cook testified.
That was buttressed by a voicemail Scott left Cook’s mother telling her her daughter would not go to prison.
But Cook had entered an open plea which left discretion entirely up to Foxman. He could have sentenced her from as little as probation or community control all the way up to life in prison. Foxman gave her 20 years in prison.
But on Monday, Foxman struck down his sentence — but not because of the 20 years.
“The manifest injustice that I find present here is not actually the sentence,” Foxman said. “It could have been anything incarceration and I think the same problem would have existed. I believe in the defendant’s mind she believed she was going home that day. She had reason to believe that from this, I’ll call it a miscommunication with Mr. Scott. He’s an old pro at this. I know he would not have made a promise he knew couldn’t have been kept.”
Source: News Journal Online