A Washington County judge put the brakes on a plea bargain involving an attempted homicide suspect accused of shooting another man in July 2013 after prosecutors offered to allow him to plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges because they might have failed to bring the case to trial within a year.
Tyrone Lett was poised to walk out of Washington County jail Monday afternoon by pleading guilty to simple assault and reckless endangerment in the shooting of another man near his Cecil Township home, but Judge John DiSalle temporarily delayed the plea so he can review the “serious allegations” and allow the two parties to continue discussing the case.
“I’ve only heard what’s in the affidavit (court documents), and it’s pretty serious,” DiSalle said. “The court is not bound by any plea agreement. I’m not saying I won’t consider it, but these are some pretty serious allegations.”
Lett, 44, of 28 Raven Drive, is accused of shooting Richard Reed in the chest and face with a shotgun July 13, 2013, after Reed and his brother, Damon, received a call from someone to go to the house in the Hendersonville neighborhood. Richard Reed went to Canonsburg Hospital for treatment.
Cecil Township police arrested Lett at his home hours later and confiscated a .410-gauge shotgun at his house. Police said Lett told them he was concerned about people approaching his house and he shot at the Reeds because he “didn’t want any trouble.” He was charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, reckless endangerment, simple assault, illegal possession of a firearm and disorderly conduct.
Prosecutors and the defense discussed in court a deal for Lett to plead guilty to simple assault and reckless endangerment with concurrent sentences of six to 12 months, meaning Lett would have received credit for time served and could have left jail immediately. Lett told DiSalle he was confused by the judge’s decision to put off consideration of a plea, and he appeared to be disappointed by the delay as he spoke to his attorney in the courtroom.
Lett’s lawyer, Dennis Popojas, is arguing that prosecutors did not bring the case to trial within one year of the arrest as required under Rule 600. He said he understood the judge’s insistence on having more time to review the case.
“We’re working on an agreement that is mutually beneficial,” Popojas said. “The judge is just being cautious, and that’s understandable.”
DiSalle said he wants to review the plea again on Aug. 21 during a Rule 600 hearing to “rationalize” whether it is an appropriate agreement.
Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone said he could not discuss any potential plea agreement with Lett.
Lett was returned to the county jail, where he has been held on $200,000 bond since his arrest last year.