Brown sentencing delayed once again

LISBON — The sentencing of Terry A. Brown, who pleaded guilty to murdering Scottie Johnson nearly a year ago, was delayed again for another month.

Brown’s new attorneys, Charles C. Amato and Joseph Phillips, have filed motions this week to delay his case in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.

Brown, 48, Hillcrest Road, Wellsville, pleaded guilty in October to aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. He was scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 5, but had his defense attorney at the time, Jennifer Gorby, file a motion on his behalf asking to be allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas.

That motion was later denied by Judge C. Ashley Pike and another sentencing hearing was set for Thursday.

Brown was given another defense attorney, James Wise, but on Thursday he was represented by Amato and Phillips, who were hired either by Brown or his family on Feb. 26. Court documents state Amato and Phillips were retained for the limited representational purposes of reviewing evidence and discovery, as well as possible pre-sentencing motions.

Pike asked Amato to explain the motions at the hearing on Thursday afternoon. Amato said Brown claims he only met with his previous counsel four hours in 11 months. Additionally, Brown claims he only saw the evidence materials contained in a thin red folder sitting on the counsel table, but Amato said there is a “voluminous amount of discovery in this case” evidence information he just recently received filling a banker’s box.

Pike asked if the purpose of this was because “the defendant has some unanswered questions.”

Amato agreed that is the case.

Additionally, Amato and Phillips voiced their concerns about getting enough access at the Columbiana County Jail to go through all the material with Brown that they were given by Gorby.

“There are some issues at the county jail,” Pike said, adding “that’s putting it lightly.” Pike noted he has been told by both attorneys and the probation office that there can be a long wait, sometimes hours, to see an inmate.

In the second motion filed, Amato and Phillips had requested to be granted specific designated dates and times to visit Brown to go over the evidence. Phillips said he had checked and the jail visitation hours currently are listed as “at reasonable times.” Amato suggested from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. should be a time Brown would be available because they would need a lot of time.

“Obviously, this is a serious case,” Amato said. “This is his life.”

Pike suggested Amato and Phillips call out to the jail and try to work with the staff to get some time set up.

In the meantime, Wise asked to be allowed to withdraw from the case and an additional sentencing hearing was set for April 2.

While Chief Assistant Prosecutor John Gamble said he and Assistant County Prosecutor Tammie Riley Jones had no problems with resetting the date and giving Brown’s new attorneys time with him, Gamble was concerned when Amato suggested he would share information from the evidence with Brown’s father and brother who were in the courtroom.

Gamble said especially where there are co-defendants in the case, the discovery materials are to be kept confidential between counsel and the defendant. Gamble said this case has tons of statements, and he did not want to see the witnesses contacted by Brown’s family. Gamble said until Brown has been sentenced and all of his appeals have been exhausted, the information should be confidential.

While Amato pointed out the co-defendant, Alicia Rogenski, was already sentenced on Monday, he agreed not to share the information in the evidence files with Brown’s family.

Rogenski was sentenced on Monday to 15 years to life for murder and aggravated robbery in the death of Johnson, who was shot at the home of Brown and Rogenski on Hillcrest Road on March 8, 2017. In an attempt to cover up the murder, Johnson’s fingertips and a tattoo were cut off. His body was left on a burn pile behind the home.