Niles man claims he was pressured into pleading guiltyPublished 5:14pm Thursday, August 23, 2012
A Niles man who pleaded guilty in June to resisting and obstructing a police officer has filed a motion in Berrien County South County Court to withdraw his guilty plea.
William Parker told Judge Dennis Wiley Thursday he was pressured into pleading guilty and that his former attorney, Andrew Burch, of Benton Harbor, provided ineffective counsel.
Parker is now being represented by Peter Johnson.
Parker testified Thursday he was under the impression he would be headed to trial until a status hearing at South County Court June 29. At that time, Parker said his former attorney advised him to take the plea deal because Parker was facing “six to nine years” in prison and that Judge Wiley was “a Nazi.”
Parker then pleaded guilty and didn’t inform the court he felt pressured, even though he was asked specifically by Wiley if he was pressured.
Wiley adjourned Thursday’s hearing until Burch could be subpoenaed to tell his side of the story.
Wiley will decide whether or not Parker has grounds to withdraw his guilty plea.
Niles police allege Parker was boisterous and confrontational when he was denied access to the ambulance his mother was in on the evening of March 24 in the 700 block of Oak Street in Niles.
Parker initially denied the charges and claimed officers beat him in the head several times after he had left the ambulance.
Parker was arraigned on three charges of assault and resisting and obstructing a police officer and emergency personnel April 2.
Niles police then conducted an internal investigation into the incident but found no evidence of police brutality or excessive force.
Cara Wilkinson, Berrien County assistant prosecutor, said her office agreed to dismiss two additional charges of resisting and obstructing in exchange for Parker’s guilty plea June 29.