SEGUIN — A motion for a new trial was denied Thursday for Cody Lorenz who pleaded guilty to murder while commiting a felony and received a 50-year prison sentence.
The defendant’s attorney, Veryl Brown, on Jan. 10 filed the motion for a new trial, contending that Lorenz did not fully understand what he was doing when he made the plea of guilty to the charge of murder in the death of Amber Robbin, 19, of Gonzales, who died in a two-vehicle collision on Dec. 29, 2011.
With Lorenz on the docket for a jury trial on Oct. 8, 2012, District Attorney Heather McMinn asked District Judge W.C. “Bud” Kirkendall to grant a motion to amend the indictment of Lorenz, removing the words “intentionally and knowingly” from two places in the indictment.
The defendant’s motion asserts that the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure prohibits indictments from being amended on the day of a trial, and Brown asserts that the amendment changed his trial strategy. He filed a motion for a continuance, seeking an additional 60 days to prepare a different defense strategy, but Kirkendall rejected the motion for a continuance and directed Brown to confer with his client for up to 20 minutes before returning to court.
“The court erred in its verdict by not granting the defendant’s motion for continuance in this case which resulted in an involuntary plea on the part of the defendant who did not adequately understand the nature of his plea of guilty due to the short time frame for consultation with his attorney,” the motion says.
Attached to the motion for a new trial are affidavits by the defendant’s parents, Michael and Rebecca Lorenz.
“I was present when my son entered his plea of guilty to the court in this case,” Michael’s affidavit says. “His mother and I were seated in the second row from the bench and could hear clearly what was being said by all parties. I overheard him say ‘not really’ when the judge asked if he understood his plea.
“He has expressed several times since entering his guilty plea that he didn’t understand why the indictment was changed nor really what was happening as it all happened so fast since the judge gave them 20 minutes to make a decision of this importance affecting the rest of his life,” the affidavit says.
Kirkendall’s notes in the case file indicate that the motion for a new trial was overruled.
After Lorenz pleaded guilty on Oct. 8, 2012, Kirkendall ordered a presentencing investigation by the probation office, and on Dec. 12, 2012, Lorenz was sentenced to a 50-year term in state prison. Kirkendall also ruled that a deadly weapon (a vehicle) was used in the offense, and the affirmative finding means that Lorenz will be required to serve at least half of the 50-year sentence before becoming eligible for parole.