Second trial set for jail escapee

A shackled Jeremy Lavorchek is led from a Pauls Valley courtroom after a hearing earlier this week. Already convicted in the armed robbery attempt of a PV pharmacy three years ago, Lavorchek is now scheduled to face jurors on charges related to his 2017 escape from county jail. (PV Democrat photo)

The words “no ma'am” rang out as a defendant facing multiple charges for a 2017 escape from Garvin County jail says there's much he doesn't understand and he's not ready for trial.

That initial response from Jeremy Lavorchek, 31, came a second or two after both state and defense attorneys indicated they were ready to proceed with Lavorchek's trial later this month.

From there the verbal fireworks began as Lavorchek often grabbed the spotlight with long rants to describe his frustration with the legal system and what he believes was a mental health evaluation of him falling far short of acceptable.

Although Lavorchek wants to represent himself it doesn't appear that's going to happen as a Garvin County judge ruled this week his jury will go on as scheduled on April 15 with his appointed attorney at his side.

Lavorchek was convicted early last year of being one of the two armed men who attempted to steal pain medications from a Pauls Valley pharmacy back on March 5, 2016.

He was later sentenced to life in prison for each of the nine counts he faced. With concurrent sentences it comes to two life terms behind bars.

The eight charges Lavorchek is facing today comes from he and Travis Seat again teaming up to escape from the county jail here on April 1, 2017. Both were recaptured a short time later as Seat has already taken a plea and been sentenced to what amounts to 50 years in prison.

Exactly two years after that escape, courtroom security was tight on Monday as a shackled Jeremy Lavorchek was back in a Pauls Valley courtroom this week for a pre-trial hearing.

Much of his focus was on a desire to get another competency evaluation and see his court appointed attorney do more on an insanity defense.

“The woman who did the mental health evaluation told a bunch of lies. I object to it. I want another evaluation and not from OIDS,” Lavorchek said, referring to the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, which supplies court-appointed defense attorneys to clients unable to afford one.

“I want to get another evaluation.”

The big objection from Garvin County Assistant District Attorney Corey Miner was on giving the defendant a green light to telling jurors as much as he wants on his mental health concerns.

“He doesn't have the right to take the stand and turn to the jury and say, 'I have a long history of mental illness,'” Miner said.

“He hasn't raised reasonable doubt about his insanity. He knew exactly what he was doing when he and Travis Seat escaped from jail and went on a multi-county pursuit.”

Lavorchek's apparent frustration spilled over to the point of telling District Judge Leah Edwards more than once he wanted to represent himself.

“This is crucial, me being able to talk about my mental health status. If you're going to say I'm Jeremy Lavorchek then his history should be included,” he said as Lavorchek continues to claim another identity and that he's not Jeremy Lavorchek.

“This person they're saying I am went to psychiatric hospitals and had multiple stints as a juvenile in Florida.”

Lavorchek's appointed attorney, Sammy Duncan, said Lavorchek's competency is not the issue here as instead it's about a trial strategy of an insanity defense.

“If a defendant is found incompetent then you don't even go to trial. That's not what this is,” Duncan said.

“This is a defense of insanity. This is a trial defense. Certainly Mr. Lavorchek has the right to testify as he wishes.”

Judge Edwards agreed the defense can raise the issue of insanity as jurors can decide the matter during Lavorchek's trial.

Despite a ruling in his favor Lavorchek still expressed an interest in serving as his own attorney.

“I don't have any choice but to represent myself. I'm not saying she would be legally deficient,” Lavorchek said, referring to Duncan. “But she's a public defender. I've seen her four times.

“I don't want to but I have to. I would rather have someone who knows what they're doing.

“I will represent myself. I do not think she's going to address this,” he said in a reference to his mental health concerns.

After a second break to talk privately with Duncan, Lavorchek filled out the paperwork to waive the right to an attorney so he could represent himself.

When the judge saw that Lavorchek had not signed the form she announced the jury trial will go on as scheduled in less than two weeks with Duncan as the defense attorney in this case.

Earlier in Monday's hearing Lavorchek said he has a problem with all eight of the charges being tried at once in this case.

“I'm objecting to the state merging all these counts. I want to go to trial on each count.”

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