Ellis County Observer publisher Joey Dauben finally gets a court-appointed attorney

Joey Dauben

Joey Dauben, the publisher of the now-defunct Ellis County Observer, finally got to see a court-appointed lawyer this week to help him fight the three felony counts of child sexual abuse that have kept him in the Navarro County Jail without legal advice for almost two months now.

Edward Jendrzey, whose office is in Waxahachie in Ellis County, received the court-ordered appointment Thursday, Feb. 16. Jendrzey accepted the case after Steve Keathley, a Corsicana attorney whose wife is the president of the Navarro County Bar Association, declined an appointment by District Court Judge James Lagomarsino to represent the journalist.

In a telephone interview today, Jendrzey said, “Yes, he knows I’m representing him,” when asked whether he had met with his new client, who reached out for help from the media this week in a handwritten letter from jail. When a defendant declares himself to be indigent and asks for a court-appointed attorney, that is supposed to occur within 72 hours. In the letter, Dauben also again claimed he is innocent of the charges.

Jendrzey said his first step in Dauben’s representation will be to conduct an independent investigation of the case to learn the circumstances and to attempt to get Dauben’s $200,000 bond set by Lagomarsino lowered. “I’ll be meeting with the prosecutor about that,” Jendrzey said. Dauben’s family and friends have been unable to raise the 10 percent (or $20,000) payment bond agencies typically charge to get a defendant released from jail.

—  admin

Defendants Sentenced in Hate Crime Slaying of José Sucuzhanay

On June 28, 2010, a New York State Supreme Court jury convicted Keith Phoenix of committing two hate crimes for beating José Sucuzhanay to death and attacking the victim’s brother, Romel, in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood after mistaking the Ecuadorian immigrants as a gay couple.

Yesterday, Judge Patricia M. Di Mango determined that Pheonix and his accomplice, Hakim Scott, will serve a minimum prison term of just over three decades for the 2008 murder of José and the attempted assault on his brother Romel. While Phoenix was convicted of a hate crime, Scott was not.

A mistrial had previously been declared on May 11th, when one juror held out for a lesser charge of manslaughter while the other 11 jurors believed that second-degree murder should be applied. Unlike the second jury, the first jury did not believe Phoenix’s acts were bias-motivated.

HRC applauds the Judge DiMango for the holding both Phoenix and Scott accountable for their actions with an appropriate prison sentence.


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—  John Wright