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Ogdensburg drug suspect challenges court, spurns counsel

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CANTON — There were tense moments in St. Lawrence County Court Thursday morning as an Ogdensburg drug suspect demanded Judge Kathleen M. Rogers justify her jurisdiction over him during arraignment, then unsuccessfully requested to have his newly-appointed attorney removed from the case.

“He won’t say the things I want him to say,” an animated Edwin G. Roach Jr. said of St. Lawrence County Public Defender Stephen D. Button.

Mr. Button then asked the judge to remove him from the case, in compliance with Mr. Roach’s request. Judge Rogers refused, saying that the question of whether Mr. Roach should be allowed to represent himself is a matter county Judge Jerome J. Richards will address when the defendant appears before him later this month.

Mr. Roach, 53, of 511 Knox St., was one of several Ogdensburg residents arrested Feb. 26 for allegedly dealing crack cocaine and prescription painkillers in the city. Also in court for arraignment Thursday were Kelly J. Ellard-Staton, 37, of 125 Belmont Courts, David A. Hazelton, 37, of 211 Belmont Courts and Jeffrey W. Brenno, 56, of 212 Linden Lane.

Mr. Brenno and Mr. Roach are accused of selling Vicodin, a prescription narcotic painkiller. Ms. Ellard-Staton and Mr. Hazelton were accused of dealing crack cocaine.

Ms. Ellard-Staton appeared before the judge Thursday with attorney Lloyd G. Grandy II and entered a not guilty plea. The judge remanded her back to the St. Lawrence County jail, Canton, in lieu of $25,000 bail or $50,000 bond to await further proceedings.

Mr. Hazelton appeared before the judge with Conflict Defender Amy L. Dona and entered a not guilty plea. The judge remanded him back to the jail, also in lieu of $25,000 bail or $50,000 bond.

Mr. Brenno appeared before the judge with attorney Efstathia G. Kyriakopoulos and entered a not guilty plea. Mr. Brenno initially was jailed on $20,000 bail or bond, but was subsequently released under the supervision of probation.

Assistant District Attorney Jonathan L. Becker said the people are prepared for trial with respect to each defendant.

Judge Rogers entered a not guilty plea for Mr. Roach amid questions about his representation. He responded with a barrage of questions.

“Am I entitled to a fair and meaningful hearing?” he asked, only to be reminded that Thursday’s appearance was an arraignment.

“Who do you represent?” he asked the judge.

“I don’t represent anyone,” she replied.

Mr. Roach went on to ask what judge’s relationship with the District Attorney is, whether she was in court “of your own free will” and by what authority and evidence he was brought to court. The judge pointed out that he had been indicted by a grand jury.

Mr. Roach challenged its jurisdiction. The judge overruled him. Mr. Becker interjected to say that Mr. Roach had at one point been a fugitive in another state who had at least nine aliases. Approached by a reporter later, Mr. Becker said he did not have details about that previous case. Mr. Button told a reporter that he only knew of a previous misdemeanor conviction in Colorado, but also had no additional details about Mr. Roach’s history.

Judge Rogers sent Mr. Roach back to the jail, where he had been committed in lieu of $15,000 bail or $20,000 bond.

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