UPDATE: Tuesday, November 27, 2012
A Butler County judge has refused to allow Lyndsey Giovinazzo to withdraw her guilty plea in the murder of her boyfriend's grandmother.
At the center of the controversy is criminal defense lawyer Mike Brown, whose career has spanned nearly four decades. The defendant, Lyndsey Giovinazzo, filed two separate motions over the last year to fire him -- and now claims that Brown misled her into thinking she would get a lighter sentence if she did not go to trial.
"She gave a good two hour confession," Brown testified Tuesday. "She readily admitted her involvement in the murder, the planning and the killing of this woman and what her participation consisted of. She had the benefit of jury instructions I sent to her outlining the charges."
Her new attorney argued Brown should not have pleaded out Giovinazzo if she faced a life prison term whether she went to trial or not -- and if there was no DNA evidence.
"With that confession," Brown said, "I didn't think whoever's DNA was under those fingernails was going to help her."
To complicate the matter, Giovinazzo's family felt that Brown should have ordered a competency examination based on what they called her low self esteem.
"How does low self esteem mean that you are not mentally ill?" asked Butler County Attorney Darrin Devinney.
"I don't know," Brown replied. "I'm not familiar with the low self esteem defense."
Loyce Cody was murdered inside her Augusta home in December of 2011. Prosecutors allege that Giovinazzo and Jacob Hoyt, her boyfriend, went to Cody's home in desperation because they were homeless. They are accused of murdering the Wichita school teacher and stealing her financial cards and some candy from inside the house.
Judge Jan Satterfield denied Giovinazzo's request to withdraw her guilty plea and said she believed the woman was fully aware and competent and understood what she was doing when she agreed to plead guilty.
Giovinazzo's sentencing hearing will be held on December 13. Hoyt's murder trial, meanwhile, is scheduled for December 10.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
A Butler County woman who earlier admitted to the murder of her boyfriend's grandmother is in court today attempting to withdraw her guilty plea.
Lyndsey Giovinazzo and Jacob Allen Hoyt were arrested in Dec. 2011 and charged with first-degree murder in the death of 69-year-old Loyce Cody. The two are accused of strangling Cody and taking a car, debit cards and candy from her Augusta home. They were arrested after a chase through Butler and Cowley counties.
In July, Giovinazzo pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. She now claims her former attorney didn't listen to her and convinced her that she would get a Hard 50 sentence if she went to trial. She says she didn't participate in the murder but waited outside while Hoyt strangled Cody.
Cody was employed with the Wichita School District. She was a pre-kindergarten teacher at Cessna Elementary and had been with the district for five years.
Both Giovinazzo and Hoyt were 19 years old at the time of their arrests. Hoyt is scheduled to go to trial next month.