Jones seeks to withdraw guilty pleas

Darrell Jones

A Fort Dodge man who pleaded guilty to felony weapons charges in connection with a 2020 double homicide is seeking to withdraw his guilty pleas, citing defects in the plea proceeding.

Darrell L. Jones, 23, pleaded guilty to one count of intimidation with a dangerous weapon and two counts of possession of a firearm as a felon on June 25. His sentencing was initially scheduled for Aug. 2, but was continued several times, most recently scheduled for Sept. 27.

In a motion in arrest of judgement filed on Monday, defense attorney Stanley Roush wrote that Jones believes the Iowa Department of Corrections has a “silent policy” to treat any gun charge more severely as a crime of violence and because Jones was not informed of this purported policy, his plea was not knowing and voluntary. Jones also argues that his plea was not knowing and voluntary because he was not informed at the plea hearing that one of the charges is a forcible felony.

In a letter filed on Monday, Jones wrote that he had been urging Roush to withdraw his plea deal since August “because we agreed to three non-violent charges but the D.O.C. has a silent mandatory on any gun charges that automatically makes the charges violent, so basically it’s not what we agreed on.”

Jones also requested a new attorney.

The Webster County Attorney’s Office filed a response on Monday afternoon, not objecting to Jones’ request for a new attorney, but resisting the motion in arrest of judgement.

A hearing on Jones’ motion in arrest of judgement is scheduled for Oct. 4 at the Webster County Courthouse.

Jones’ pretrial release was revoked by the court for testing positive for marijuana on two occasions and for admitting to being the driver of a vehicle occupied by passenger Joshua Hanrahan, who is accused of firing a gun into an occupied vehicle at the intersection of Fifth Avenue South and South 21st Street on Aug. 22. He is being held at the Webster County Jail on a $15,000 bond.

Jones was initially taken into custody on June 24, 2020, on a material witness warrant in relation to a shooting just weeks earlier in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood that left two men dead and two others injured.

Two Fort Dodge men, 25-year-old Jamael Cox and 47-year-old Tyrone Cunningham, were killed in a volley of bullets in the early morning hours of June 16, 2020. Two others, Marissa Andrews, 21, of Fort Dodge, and Jayne Barton, 30, of Wesley, were injured but survived.

Jones, along with four other men, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder on Nov. 10. He was also charged with one count of possession of a firearm as a felon.

The state eventually dismissed Jones’ two murder charges and weapons charge in April, citing information gathered through depositions that led prosecutors to believe the charges couldn’t be proven at trial by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Jones was then charged with two counts of intimidation with a dangerous weapon and another count of felon in possession of a firearm the same day.

If Jones’ motion in arrest of judgement is unsuccessful and he is unable to withdraw his guilty pleas, his sentencing hearing will be rescheduled.

He faces up to five years in prison for each of the three charges he is pleading guilty to, as well as fines of up to $7,500 for each charge.


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