"I want another lawyer," defendant
"I agreed with you in the principle, I guess, of not being a sideshow," he said.
Hanzman appointed a public defender to represent Charles, 48, who said he has not drawn a paycheck from his job at
Gutierrez has insisted that the fire that ignited in his pants pocket was not a stunt to persuade jurors of Charles' innocence but a freak accident caused by an electronic cigarette battery. The
Witnesses at the trial told the
Gutierrez rushed out of the courtroom and into the bathroom, where he doused his pockets with water. Hanzman allowed the lawyer to wrap up his closing argument with a singed pocket. Jurors convicted Charles of second-degree arson anyway.
Charles asked for a new trial, but on Friday prosecutors offered him a plea deal: 18 months in prison if he accepts the guilty verdict and drops his request.
If Charles pursues a new trial, though, then prosecutors said they would add two additional charges that had been dropped in the prior proceeding, including an allegation of insurance fraud. He could face five years in prison if convicted of arson, and an additional 3 1/2 years if the jury finds him guilty of the additional charges.
Hanzman gave Charles until
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