Stamford man seeks to reverse guilty plea in sex assault
STAMFORD — A Stamford man who pleaded guilty to drugging and molesting a man he met in a New York City bar now says his attorney forced him to make the guilty plea.
Jarion Castillo-Martinez told a Stamford judge he wants to renege and have the conviction vacated. The judge ruled Monday that Castillo-Martinez will have to return to court in early June for a hearing on the matter.
Castillo-Martinez, 42, was was arrested in June 2017, six months after a police complaint was filed on him. According to the complaint, a 20-year-old homeless man said he went to Castillo-Martinez’s West Side apartment after meeting him in Grand Central Station. Castillo-Martinez told the man he would help find him a place to stay in Stamford and the two took the train to Stamford on the evening of Jan. 4.
He said Castillo-Martinez, who at the time was a bartender at a trendy Towne Street bistro, bought some beers on the walk back to his Wilson Street apartment. The man told police he had a few beers at the apartment, but the last one tasted funny and he passed out after drinking it. When he woke up 7:30 a.m. Castillo-Martinez was performing oral sex on him, according to an arrest affidavit.
The man ran out of Castillo-Martinez’s apartment and called police before returning and throwing rocks, breaking windows and screaming that he had just been “date raped,” the affidavit said.
At the time police said they had received a nearly identical complaint about Castillo-Martinez from another man just two months earlier. They charged him with first-degree sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault of someone who was physically helpless and purchasing liquor for a minor. Castillo-Martinez, a native of Nicaragua who is being held on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer, has remained in jail since, unable to raise a $150,000 court appearance bond.
Castillo-Martinez’s attorney, Jerome Larracuente, was able to negotiate with Assistant State’s Attorney Michelle Manning to get the charges whittled down to one count of second-degree sexual assault of someone who is physically helpless. Castillo Martinez pleaded guilty to the charge in February and in exchange was to be given a suspended sentence and put on the sex offender registry.
But in early April, Castillo-Martinez filed a motion to withdraw and vacate his guilty plea, claiming improper and ineffective assistance of counsel. According to the motion, Castillo-Martinez said he was “coerced” into pleading guilty and that he did not understand what his attorney was doing. Castillo-Martinez insists that he wanted a trial and that his requests for a trial were “completely disregarded” by Larracuente.
Larracuente shortly thereafter filed his own motion to withdraw from the case because Castillo-Martinez filed a complaint against him to the Statewide Grievance Committee and refused to speak with him. Larracuente did not return a call for comment.
During Castillo-Martinez’s appearance on Monday, Judge Gary White refused to remove Larracuente from the case entirely but appointed a public defender to represent him. White said that when Castillo-Martinez returns to court on June 4 he will hold a hearing on the matter while examining the transcripts of the hearing at which Castillo Martinez made his guilty plea.