Last month, Michael W. Durham avoided trial when he entered a guilty plea in the 2010 home invasion robbery of a Junction City couple in exchange for a recommended sentence of 11 years in prison.
On Tuesday, when Boyle Circuit Judge Darren Peckler was set to formally sentence him to those 11 years, Durham changed his mind again. He told Peckler he wanted to fire his lawyer, withdraw his guilty plea and take the case to trial acting as his own attorney.
Peckler said he will hold two hearings on July 19, one to determine if Durham can legally withdraw his guilty plea and the other to decide if he can act as his own attorney if the case goes forward.
Durham, 26, of Stanford is charged with two counts of first-degree robbery and one count of first-degree burglary for allegedly breaking into the home of Warren and Mary Bigger. Warren Bigger was pistol whipped, and Mary Bigger was threatened with a gun during the robbery, where old coins, jewelry, cash and a laptop computer were taken.
Durham’s cousin, Shawn Durham, pleaded guilty to the same charges in March and received an 11-year prison sentence. Michael Durham was offered the same deal at the time but turned it down, and a trial was set for June 19. In April, Michael Durham was indicted on three counts of being a persistent felonly offender, upping the prison time he could receive if he was found guilty at trial
Michael Durham reconsidered before the trial began and pleaded guilty in exchange for the 11-year sentence, only to change his mind again on Tuesday.
“I made it clear to him that I strongly advise him not to do what he is asking the court to do,” Bill Noelker, Durham’s former attorney, said after Tuesday’s hearing.
If Durham is convicted of the robbery and burglary charges, along with being a persistent felony offender, he faces a prison sentence between 20 and 40 years. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Lynne Coleman suggested Durham should have stuck with the deal he had instead of asking to represent himself at trial.
“It would be a huge mistake for him to do so,” Coleman said afterward.