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Moments before sentencing, Kenosha man asks court to withdraw guilty plea in assault case

Reginaldo Etienne

KENOSHA -- Moments before his sentencing hearing on Monday afternoon, March 25, the Kenosha man who pleaded guilty to assaulting two women along the Kenosha County Bike Trail said he wants to head to trial.

In a deal with prosecutors, Reginaldo Etienne pleaded guilty in February to two counts of second degree sexual assault -- use of force. Eight other charges were dismissed. On Monday, Etienne told the court he no longer wants to admit to something he did not do. He was then without an attorney -- his case in limbo.

"I felt that at the time I was in the chambers talking to my attorney that I had no other choice but to take the plea because it was stated to me, he felt that if we went to trial he wouldn't win," Etienne told the court.

Terry Rose

Etienne's attorney disagreed that he pressured his client -- and filed his own motion to withdraw as counsel.

"One of the things an attorney has to do is give their client advice. I gave him my best advice. He accepted it at the time," said Terry Rose, defense attorney. "If he wants to make a contrary argument to the court, he'll have to do that with another attorney."

Etienne is accused of assaulting a 67-year-old woman along the bike path in March 2018. Two months later, the sheriff said Etienne struck again. The 18-year-old victim in that second incident fought back, getting some of the suspect's DNA on her -- which came back as a match for Etienne.

"There are some cases where a conviction is almost certainly based on the evidence," said the judge in court on Monday.

The judge then told Etienne Monday's turn of events was exactly why plea bargain hearings are not rushed.

"You told me you were aware of what was going on. You told me you had time to think about it; that you thought it was the best thing to do under all the circumstances," the judge said.

The judge did not make a decision either way on the guilty plea withdrawal. He said first, Etienne must hire a new attorney.

Reginaldo Etienne

On April 16, all parties are supposed to meet again. If at that time the defense still wants to withdraw the guilty plea, there will be a hearing on that motion. If not, sentencing will proceed.

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