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Judge considering plea withdrawal request from Gaven Carlisle’s killer

| March 30, 2022
Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Ernest is reviewing a plea withdrawal request from Sajjadd Butler, the Canton man serving 30 years to life in prison for the shooting death Gaven Carlisle during a drug robbery last March. Butler is claiming the public defenders pictured next to him in this photo from an earlier proceeding were ineffective and pressured him to accept a plea deal without giving him adequate time to consider the offer. (File photo)

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (March 30, 2022) – One of the Canton men convicted for the slaying of 22-year-old Gaven Carlisle last March is still trying to back out of his plea deal. 

20-year-old Sajjaad Butler made the request for the second time in a motion filed by Attorney Jacob Will, who summarized the filing during a hearing Tuesday in the courtroom of Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Ernest.

“The seriousness of the offenses and the seriousness of the charges and frankly the seriousness of the result of the plea and the sentence that was imposed, we contend that it was a manifest injustice that Mr. Butler was not given further time to consider the role that his attorneys were playing at the time he entered this plea.”

Prosecutors have filed a memo opposing the request, which Will based on court transcripts, discussions with Butler, and an unsigned letter he mailed to the court back in November. They say Butler’s reasons for wanting to back out of the deal are vague and don’t meet the high standard of proof required for vacating a plea after a defendant has been sentenced. Ernest says he plans to issue a written ruling after carefully reviewing both filings.

“Just so everyone knows, counsel and everyone in the room, that there is going to be no decision made here from the bench. I will be reviewing what they referred to, extensive filings, and transcripts.”  

Butler claimed in his letter that he was dissatisfied with his public defenders and that they pressured him to take the deal without giving him time to reflect or entertain other offers. He asked for new ones minutes before accepting the plea deal that sent him to prison for 30 years to life claiming they weren’t working hard enough for him, but Ernest didn’t allow it. 

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