Deferred sentence in Northampton incest case
By Linda Cicoira
There was a delay on Monday in delivering the sentence for Exmore’s father, 77, for crimes against his daughter – who was the victim of incestuous sexual offenses decades ago.
Roy Kellam James was due to be sentenced Monday by Northampton Circuit Court for two of the seven crimes committed between 1978 and 1982. Testimony at trial revealed that he had abused his only biological child every time he had one. opportunity from the age of four until she was 15. Those in authority, who could have helped him at the time, were unaware of what was going on or refused to do anything about it.
Normally, the name of a victim of a sex crime would not be disclosed in a news story. In the case of incest, the identification would be evident by the mention of the crime. Stacie James has allowed Shore Daily News to use her name so that the facts can be disclosed. She was happy with the plea bargain her father had made with Commonwealth attorney Beverly Leatherbury. It did justice and kept the 56-year-old from having to testify.
James pleaded guilty in July. After hearing the “horrific” details, Judge W. Revell Lewis III said if the victim had not accepted the bargaining deal, he would never have accepted it. “The court will respect the wishes of the victim. At this point, Lewis ordered a detailed face-to-face report and psychosexual assessment.
Last week, the defendant filed a motion for withdrawal of pleas. In a last-minute motion on Monday, her attorney, Kelly Vasta, of Norfolk, asked the court to allow her to step down as James’ attorney because she could be called to testify on the plea motion. The lawyer declined to explain why she would be called because in doing so she would violate lawyer / client confidentiality. She said she sought an opinion on that decision from the state bar’s ethics board and was told she should step down. This notice was sent to her in an email she received on Monday morning, just hours before the matter arose.
“He can’t just change his mind,” the judge said. Is there a “misconception about the nature of the charge?” Fear? Was his plea made unintentionally? Nothing has been said about any of these things…. Are you saying he just wants to change his mind now? Is there a big surprise here? The judge asked in a long question.
The prosecutor said the defense attorney’s testimony would be hearsay and therefore inadmissible. “It was not alleged in the petition that she gave him bad advice,” the Commonwealth prosecutor said. “He admitted that he was pleading guilty because he was guilty… the Commonwealth is gravely wronged” by these motions.
“Partly it’s fear,” the defense attorney admitted. Vasta also cryptically said that this was “legal advice I gave him” – “it was the reverse of inappropriateness”. Vasta said his withdrawal would allow James “to advance a reasonable defense.” Judge, I find myself in a difficult situation. This is unfamiliar territory to me… He has the right to call me as his witness.
The judge and lawyers conceded that there was no physical evidence to convict James and that the victim’s testimony was essential to secure a conviction.
Lewis said he had no choice but to delay due to the defense attorney’s “lack of diligence”. The judge berated her for waiting so long to file the motions. There could have been an end to this more than 30 year old affair “in 2021”. From now on, people “won’t have to sue him until 2022,” he said. If the judge had not delayed sentencing, the appeals court would conclude that the judge should order an extension, he said.
The judge said the deal was “clearly defined. It was there. He did not just indicate that the accused would be sentenced according to the directives, he indicated what the directives were “- from eight to 21 years and over.
The victim lowered her head and began to cry because of the delay. She was quickly led out of the courtroom by the prosecutor and followed by several other family and friends.
The judge allowed the defense attorney to withdraw from the case and appointed Brandon Wilder as James’ new attorney. The judge did not allow James to withdraw the pleas. The psychosexual assessment had not been filed because of this request. Lewis asked for it to be dropped. He asked Leatherbury to work with Wilder to set a new sentencing date.