By John Arceno
VENTURA, CA — Facing multiple allegations involving an illegal usage of a firearm, defendant Del Cohen appeared in Ventura County Superior Court this week for a sentencing hearing—but when he didn’t get the deal he wanted, he backed out of the plea and fired his public defender.
Prior to the hearing, Assistant Public Defender Glenn Major and Judge Patricia Murphy discussed the so-called “Cohen matter” when the defendant was not yet present.
On the record, the defense counsel shared that Cohen was just accepted at New Hope, a rehabilitation program, hoping that the judge will be compelled to give the defendant a more attractive plea deal not involving jail or prison.
But in response, Judge Murphy said she remains indifferent to this new information considering the defendant’s criminal history and the numerous programs that he’s been involved in prior to this felony charge. She foreshadowed her preference for the victim’s offer to sentence the defendant to 32 months for his felony and misdemeanor.
In the actual hearing, the judge proclaimed that she “did not fully appreciate the extent of Mr. Cohen’s criminal history, specifically as it relates to women and young girls… and his multiple attempts at a program.”
The judge stated that she’s “not prepared to go forward with the (defense’s) resolution.”
Upon hearing this, Cohen then begged the judge to reconsider the sentence given to him, saying, “I understand, (considering) my criminal history, and I’ve made mistakes in the past that I had to live with for the rest of my life.”
But he adamantly contended that “prison isn’t the answer.”
“I’m not going to talk to you about it anymore,” the judge replied. “I’ve made up my mind.”
It was evident that the defendant was not pleased with her sentencing, and so she gave him a choice to withdraw his guilty plea or to proceed with the sentence he’s been given.
“Mr. Cohen, do you understand your choices?” asked the defense counsel.
After a long moment of silence, the defendant spoke over the microphone, saying “I will not have a word with you as my attorney.”
Speaking to the judge, he eventually proclaimed that he will be withdrawing his guilty plea and will not be moving forward with PD Major as his attorney.
Judge Murphy responded by saying that the court will not honor the defendant’s desire to fire his attorney as his legal representative while the court is still in session. She did, however, granted Cohen’s withdrawal of his guilty plea.
As she was trying to make arrangements for the defendant’s next court dates, Cohen once again disrupted court proceedings, prompting her to sternly ask him to “stop interrupting (her).”
“I’m sorry, I’m just really distraught right now,” Cohen replied.
Cohen’s early disposition court date is scheduled on Aug. 12 at 1:30 p.m. His preliminary hearing is set to occur five days after that on Aug. 17 at 8:15 a.m.