The man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his boyfriend in Oneonta now wants to withdraw his guilty plea.
Twenty-five-year-old Joshua Underwood previously pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the death of 52-year-old Mark Morrison of Oneonta on January 1.
Underwood was scheduled to be sentenced today in Otsego County Court, but instead he said he wants to withdraw his guilty plea for first-degree manslaughter, claiming he was coerced by the public defender’s assistant assigned to his case.
Underwood also claims the public defender’s office ignored numerous requests to meet with him, effectively represent him and to pursue a psychiatric defense. The Otsego County public defender removed his assistant and took the case himself, but now the judge has relieved the public defender of their duties and has assigned another attorney to the case.
“Since he is claiming that the public defender's office provided him with ineffective assistance of counsel, the judge relieved the public defender's office and assigned, is going to assign, a new lawyer to represent him and submit the motion to withdraw his plea,” said John Muehl, Otsego County district attorney.”
Police say around 3:30 a.m. January 1, they received a call from Underwood who said he had killed Morrison. Police found Morrison dead in his Main Street apartment in Oneonta, and they say he was killed by blunt force trauma to the head. Police say Underwood tried to conceal the crime by stuffing the apartment doorway with newspapers and setting them on fire
Based on the reasons Underwood has given for wanting to withdraw his guilty plea, Muehl doesn’t believe Underwood will be successful.
They’re due back in court in about 45 days, but the judge has not yet set a date.