Paso Robles stabbing suspect changes mind on plea

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comAugust 28, 2012 

Just before he was scheduled to be sentenced today, one of four defendants in a fatal stabbing case surprised the attorneys involved when he asked to withdraw his guilty plea.

After pleading no contest to first-degree murder in July, Alfonso “Pancho” Fierros was expected to serve at least 25 years before becoming eligible for parole. But as his formal sentencing approached, he said he wanted to change his plea and get a new attorney.

Fierros, 33, of Paso Robles, and three others were charged with the murder of Robert Uyeno, 55, who was severely beaten and stabbed numerous times last summer at the Farmhouse Motel in Paso Robles. Fierros allegedly slashed Uyeno’s throat.

The methamphetamine-fueled crime began as a drug robbery attempt. Later, the defendants accused the victim of sexual assaults, though he had no criminal record for sex crimes.

Last week, co-defendant Jennifer Velten, 29, of Paso Robles, was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. Tabatha Brown, 29, of San Luis Obispo, is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 6. Meanwhile, the fourth defendant, John Wesley Barrett, 42, of Atascadero, was declared incompetent to stand trial in December.

Superior Court Judge John Trice continued the case until Thursday, when he will consider the defendant’s request for a new attorney and change of plea.

A change in legal representation in criminal cases is normally considered only if there’s a proven conflict between the attorney and client or if the defense attorney has misrepresented his client.

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