31-year-old Josh Lippencott will be representing himself during his trial for the death of David Robinson after dismissing his second privately-retained attorney. (Stacey Carmany, Tusco TV)
NEW PHILADELPHIA - The 31-year-old former Gnadenhutten man charged with murder and involuntary manslaughter for the death of 62-year-old David A. Robinson will now be acting as his own attorney as his case heads to trial.
Josh Lippencott during a status hearing Monday dismissed Attorney Dan Guinn of New Philadelphia less than 24 hours ahead of his trial. Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court Judge Edward O’Farrell said he would not allow Lippencott to retain a new attorney, his third in the case, and that he would have to represent himself during the trial.
"Mr. Guinn substituted for Mr. [Jeffrey] Jakmides, so Mr. Guinn is your second retained lawyer in the case. The trial has been scheduled for several months now for tomorrow. I’m not willing to continue this to have you get another lawyer. I don’t have to do that in my opinion under the law," he said.
Lippencott cited a disagreement over Guinn’s trial strategy as the reason for his dismissal. O’Farrell said he would appoint Guinn as a backup attorney to answer any legal questions Lippencott might have during the trial.
"That’s certainly something you could do. You could do it frequently if you wanted to but he’s not your lawyer. You are your own attorney," he said. "He would not, again, address the jury or the court. He would talk to you and answer your questions."
Assistant Prosecutor Mike Ernest said it’s highly unusual for someone to act as their own defense in a murder case.
"It’s uncharted territory. I’ve never had a case before where somebody was unrepresented in a murder case. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had anybody unrepresented in a felony case at all, let alone in a murder case," he said.
Lippencott during the hearing also rejected an agreement that would allow him to plead guilty to the charges in exchange for an 11-year sentence recommendation. He told the judge he would be willing to accept the deal only if it included a week-long furlough on GPS-monitored house arrest so he could travel to Knox County to spend time with his mother and sister. Ernest said the state was unwilling to enter into such an agreement.
"This happened while Mr. Lippencott was on supervision at the time. He was already convicted and being supervised when he went out and committed an even more serious crime. There is no way," he said.
Lippencott is accused of assaulting Robinson while he was mowing his lawn on October 22, 2017. Robinson died from medical complications that arose as a result of his injuries. Lippencott has been incarcerated at the Belmont Correctional Institution since last January on a probation violation for an unrelated charge. He is eligible for judicial release June 20th but now faces up to life in prison if the jury finds him guilty as charged for Robinson’s death.