A man charged with killing 34-year-old Lajawn Cokley argued with Merced County Judge Jeanne Schechter during his arraignment hearing, interrupting and arguing with her multiple times as she appointed a new attorney to represent him in court.
James Martin, 28, appeared in court Thursday morning and immediately started pleading with Schechter.
“It’s my life on the line,” Martin said to Schechter, telling her he had a baby on the way. “I didn’t do none of this ...”
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Schechter warned Martin about swearing in the courtroom, telling him the court will review the evidence during a future preliminary hearing. Martin apologized, but continued to interrupt Schechter after his court-appointed attorney, Susan Albertoni, declared a conflict of interest.
Schechter warned Martin several more times to stop “rambling.” She ordered Merced County’s contract public defender firm, Ciummo and Associates, to appoint a new attorney for Martin.
Martin was being held in lieu of $1.2 million on suspicion of first degree murder and robbery stemming from the Jan. 25 incident, according to jail records. He has yet to enter a plea.
Witnesses told police Cokley answered a doorbell at their home in the 400 block of Tucolay Court in Merced in the early hours of Jan. 25, according to investigation reports. Three men allegedly shot Cokley and invaded their home.
The three individuals reportedly also put a gun to Cokley’s girlfriend’s head and threatened to shoot her before the girlfriend’s daughter pointed them to the direction of a locked safe, according to the reports. The thieves took the safe, which ended up being empty, and left the home.
As officers responded to the home, they found Cokley with several gunshot wounds, and they asked Cokley who shot him, according to reports. Cokley responded by giving a nickname police believe Martin uses.
Martin’s arraignment hearing, in which he is expected to make a plea, was scheduled for Monday so the court can seek a suitable public defender for him.