OLATHE, Kan. — Justin Rey filed a series of new motions in Johnson County Court before a hearing set for Monday morning, causing it to be rescheduled yet again.
Rey, who was convicted of child endangerment and child pornography charges at the end of January, was supposed to be sentenced on March 27.
He has filed numerous motions that include asking for a new judge, a new attorney, a lesser sentence, a change of venue, a dismissal and a mistrial.
“The last thing the judge wants is to have to do the case over again because they made a mistake, so it’s always better, a better school of thought, to give the defendant the time they need," Kansas criminal defense attorney Brandan Davies said. "That way they can never come back later and say, ‘Wait a minute, on XYZ date I asked for this and you wouldn’t allow it and I have constitutional rights to that.'"
Davies said many times criminal cases can take years but that defendants have the right to try every legal option, and many times they have nothing to lose.
Rey and his two small children were found in a Lenexa storage unit in October 2017 with the dismembered remains of his wife, Jessica Monteiro Rey. Rey admitted he dismembered her.
One of Rey's newer motions asked to retain Marc Berry, who represented Rey in a previous civil case. That motion was denied. Rey then chose to continue "pro se," which means that a defendant represents himself, after the court asked him if he understands what that means. He has gone through several attorneys at this point.
"That’s really evident when you start to file a bunch of pro se motions. Part of it is they don’t know what they’re doing," Davies said.
Davies said that in his experience, when a defendant wants to represent himself, there is a level of mental illness present. Rey was found competent to stand trial after a mental health evaluation at Larned State Hospital, another process that delayed the case for months.
"If you’re a person representing yourself, the judge isn’t supposed to give you any extra special leeway," Davies said. "You can’t go into court and say, 'Wait a minute, I didn’t know, I’m not a lawyer.' Well then, you shouldn’t have chosen to represent yourself, that’s what the judge is going to tell you."
The delay in court processes can be agonizing for families of the victims, such as Monteiro Rey's sister, Sarah Monteiro.
"I feel like he’s doing it for attention. He’s wasting everyone’s time," Monteiro said. "The conviction can’t be overturned, they already found him guilty. I don’t understand why they’re allowing this."
Davies and the Johnson County District Attorney's Office said defendants stretching the process happens all the time. Other times, a case may take a while because the courts are busy.
"There’s a lot of times where you might ask for a hearing and the judge doesn’t have time, or the other lawyer isn’t available so you have to set things out," Davies said. "Pretty interesting how a week becomes a month pretty quick."
Rey's children are in foster care. The process to determine if his parental rights will be terminated is also on hold, partly because he hasn't been sentenced yet.
"They’re allowing him to play this little game he’s playing regardless of the kids and even the other charges he has," Monteiro said.
Rey still faces a charge of abandoning a corpse in Jackson County, Missouri, where he said he dismembered Monteiro Rey.
A lengthy case does cost taxpayers money, although the district attorney's office said it's hard to quantify the amount.
Rey is due back in court April 18.