GEORGETOWN - In the last stage of a guilty plea that would likely have gotten him 24 years in prison, murder suspect Jesus Reyna pulled the plug on the process Monday, firing his attorney and asking the judge to allow his case to go to trial.
"I'd rather have a jury convict me," Reyna said in court at what was supposed to be his sentencing hearing.
Reyna, 29, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 2010 shooting of Conrad Keith Crall near Georgetown, avoiding a first-degree charge.
District Attorney Bruce Brown told the court Monday he had planned to request a 24-year sentence. Sentencing Judge Russell Granger warned Reyna after his attorney was dismissed that by pulling his guilty plea, he likely would have to go to trial and could face life in prison on the charge of first-degree murder.
"This is the rest of your life we're talking about," Granger warned Reyna. "Life without possibility of parole versus 24 years. Make sure you're aware of that."
Reyna confirmed that he wanted to dismiss council, saying he wished another attorney to look through the evidence against him.
The court appointed the first lawyer who had been assigned to Reyna's case as a replacement and who Reyna had also dismissed earlier in the process. Officials noted that appointing a new attorney would cause a long delay as there are more than 3,000 pages of evidence to be reviewed.
Reyna indicated plans to file a motion withdrawing his guilty plea. Granger said if that motion is granted the case will be put on a trial track.
Reyna allegedly admitted to police that he and another suspect, Shawn Sheeley, lured Crall into a car in the Denver area in September 2010 and drove Crall to the mountains where they shot him to death, according to Reyna's arrest affidavit.
The motive for the murder was not made clear in the affidavit.
Sheeley pleaded guilty to second-degree murder earlier this year and was sentenced to 30 years in prison Monday.