WILKES-BARRE — Two high-profile court cases are scheduled to go to trial this week in Luzerne County Court, with homicide suspect Joshua Ovalles’ case as well as theft charges against towing contractor Leo Glodzik on the calendar.
But neither case has reached this point smoothly, and past history suggests further procedural hurdles may not be out of the question.
Ovalles, 20, of Wilkes-Barre, faces an open count of criminal homicide in the July 7 death of Vaughn Kemp, 24, outside 174 S. Grant St. Witnesses have said they saw Ovalles fire shots into the air. Defense attorney Peter Moses previously has argued that no one actually saw Ovalles shoot Kemp.
Glodzik, 43, faces two theft counts following investigation into allegations that he stole $2,100 from a vehicle he towed which was part of a drug arrest in January 2013.
In a terse handwritten order filed Friday afternoon, county Judge David W. Lupas rejected a request by Moses for a continuance in the Ovalles case.
In his petition for more time, Moses told the court that he had a scheduling conflict with two other cases, in Columbia and Lackawanna counties, respectively, attaching documentation regarding his commitments.
But Moses also wrote that he was seeking “some limited, additional time to explore global resolution of all pending cases against Mr. Ovalles … .”
Prior to the July 7 shooting death, Ovalles already was under the cloud of an attempted murder charge. According to court records, Ovalles was free on $100,000 bail in the alleged attempted killing of Michael Kubiak on Jan. 9, 2013. Police say Ovalles fired three rounds, striking Kubiak in the leg, chest and face while they were driving to buy heroin in the city.
In addition to those two cases, Ovalles also is facing drug charges.
Lupas previously granted Moses a continuance in the case in mid-April for the same reason — the chance for a “global resolution,” or in other words, a plea deal — and the judge did not seem inclined Friday to extend the same privilege once again.
“Denied, the court noting that trial has already been continued at least two times at defendant’s request,” Lupas wrote. “The parties shall appear on Monday, May 12, 2014 at 9:30 a.m., as previously ordered.”
As for Glodzik, defense attorney Joseph Sklarosky Sr. on Wednesday filed with county Judge Lesa S. Gelb a change of venire request, under which he is seeking an out-of-county jury to hear the case, arguing that “saturation” media coverage of Glodzik’s legal troubles has permeated the local jury pool.
Sklarosky argues area jurors would face “conscious and even subconscious conflicts and difficulties” that would hamper their ability to serve faithfully, no matter how hard they tried.
“The defendant respectfully submits that this change of venire is necessary to ensure fundamental fairness for both sides,” he wrote.
Gelb had not issued a ruling on Sklarosky’s request prior to the close of business on Friday.