Two people charged with allegedly running a prostitution ring out of a Cranberry Township hotel, argued Friday in county court that they have been incarcerated for several months without a preliminary hearing.
Oscar Carter III, 53, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Shelby S. Brown, 27, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, argued that they have been incarcerated since their arrests in March, yet a preliminary hearing on the case has yet to occur.
“I have been two months and nine days incarcerated without a preliminary hearing,” Carter told the court.
Brown made the same argument in her motion, claiming the untimely nature of the hearing. Butler County Judge William Shaffer denied those motions, stating that the they were improperly filed before the court, as the case has yet to reach the county court level.
Carter argued that his preliminary hearing, initially scheduled for March 23 has been continued four times, and is now scheduled for July 20.
“That is four months after my arrest,” he said. “It shouldn't take four months to determine if a crime was committed.”
He claimed that three of those continuances were filed by the prosecution, while Assistant District Attorney Mark Lope argued that one was filed due to unavailability of the judge, one by the prosecution, one by the defense and another for an undetermined reason.
Brown's hearing has also been continued several times, and her preliminary hearing is also scheduled for July 20. Her attorney, Assistant Public Defender Maura Palumbi, said she was “not entirely certain why the preliminary hearing was continued,” but it “does seem unusual.”
Palumbi asked her client be released on nominal bond pending the hearing, but Shaffer denied that request, saying it was more appropriately suited as a written motion.
Carter also challenged the jurisdiction of Butler County courts to handle the case as he claimed the alleged crime occurred in Allegheny County rather than Cranberry Township, that he was pulled over without probable cause and unlawfully arrested, and challenged the charges. He also argued that bail was excessive, and he wasn't a flight risk. Lope argued that Carter has no local connections, as he is from Oklahoma and asked that bail remain at $100,000.
Carter also requested that he be assigned a new court appointed attorney, after he said his current attorney, Dennis McCurdy, and he are “not seeing eye to eye” and claiming racism.
Shaffer denied all the motions, and ordered that McCurdy review the case and withdraw his appearance if he is unable to work with Carter.
A full story will appear in the Butler Eagle.