Gouker claims inept counsel, seeks to withdraw guilty plea - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Gouker claims inept counsel, seeks to withdraw guilty plea

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Josh Gouker told his attorney "numerous times" that he was not involved in the murder of his 14-year-old stepson, Trey Zwicker, but was going to do whatever he could to protect his son, Josh Young, who was also charged in the slaying, according to recently released court records.

Mark Hall, Gouker's attorney, told him in letters last May that it would be "foolish and counter-productive" to plead guilty in murdering Trey if he was only doing so to protect his son.

In fact, Hall told Gouker that "there is a very real possibility" prosecutors did not have enough evidence to convict him but that despite Hall's "advice to the contrary, you still intend to proceed with a guilty plea."

The letters were released in court records as part of an attempt by Gouker to withdraw his guilty plea last May in the murder of Trey, claiming that he was innocent and received "ineffective assistance of counsel."

Gouker told Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Barry Willett Thursday that Hall knew that he was lying when he pleaded guilty and "coached" him on how to enter the plea.

"There is no other way I could save Josh," Gouker said of his son. Trey was beaten to death and his body was found outside Liberty High School in May 2011.

Gouker said he pleaded guilty so Young would not be convicted. A jury found Young not guilty in August, though he is now in jail on other charges.

But Willett pointed out to Gouker that he tried to plead guilty at his own arraignment before the judge and his attorney stopped him and that he knowingly entered a guilty plea describing in detail how he killed Trey and then gave the same details in testimony at Young's trial.

And Willett noted the letters from Hall in which the attorney told Gouker he was preventing him from properly defending the case and going against his attorneys' advice.

Hall told Gouker that "throughout my representation of you, you have indicated that you would do 'whatever needed to be done' or 'anything it takes' to convince the court, the prosecutor and the jury that you were in fact guilty of Trey Zwicker's death, and that your son had nothing to do with it" and that Hall had repeatedly advised him that pleading guilty may not help his son.

In another letter, Hall reminded Gouker that he told the attorney not to pursue "a yellow pipe" found at the crime scene "that seemingly matched the description of the object that ... may have been evidence of the crime."

"Again I have only memorialized this to insure that there is no misunderstanding," he said.

Willett said he would either issue of written ruling or decide there needed to be an evidentiary hearing on the issue.


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