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Justin Rey sentencing delayed again due to more motions, another change in attorney

Posted at 6:13 PM, May 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-03 19:34:07-04

OLATHE, Kan. — Justin Rey was not sentenced as scheduled for a second time after he filed another series of motions, further delaying court proceedings.

At a court hearing Friday, Rey, who was convicted in January of child endangerment, child misconduct and sexual exploitation of a child, had loud outbursts that led to his new attorney, Carl Cornwell, trying to calm him down.

"I think we're doing pretty good and then he just kind of, I don't know where he goes, but he's not going with our conversations, so I think he needs to be looked at," Cornwell said.

In October 2017, Rey was found staying in a Lenexa U-Haul storage unit with his toddler and newborn, along with the dismembered remains of his wife, Jessica Monteiro Rey, in two coolers.

The sexual exploitation of a child charges stemmed from a search of Rey's phone, when investigators found sexually explicit photos of teenagers. Those charges don't involve his own children.

Almost immediately after Cornwell was appointed as his new attorney, Rey filed two motions to dismiss him and instead have him on stand-by. After Johnson County Judge Brenda Cameron asked Rey several times if he understood what it meant to represent himself, Rey agreed to appoint Cornwell as his attorney in another flustered outburst.

The hold-up Friday was another motion filed by Rey — who has filed dozens of other motions already — arguing that his former attorney during trial, Scott Toth, was ineffective.

Cornwell said Friday he disagrees with his client.

"I know Mr. Toth and I'm going to look at it and I'm going to do everything I can, but I know him and know him to be very thorough and very conscientious and one hell of a trial lawyer," Cornwell said after the hearing.

Because Rey filed the motion of ineffective assistance after trial, the defense will have an opportunity to question Toth on the stand, as well as the state.

No one could reach Toth on Friday to bring him to the stand, however, causing Cameron to continue the hearing to June 28, at which point Rey is scheduled to be sentenced.

Assistant District Attorney Sarah Hill and attorney Pete Glasser requested that the client-attorney privilege between Rey and Toth be waived so that they can question him properly. After a recess, Rey had not agreed to waive the privilege, and Cornwell said they would discuss it further before June.

Cornwell asked Cameron to allow Rey to return to Larned State Hospital for further evaluation. Rey was sent there before trial and found to be competent, but Cornwell said that sending him there again would allow staff to assess whether they can help Rey and then bring him back for sentencing.

Cameron may rule on that request before the June hearing.

However, Rey said in court that he is not going back to the state hospital.

On Friday, Cornwell also argued Rey's motion for a new trial, echoing Toth's arguments that certain evidence in the trial had nothing to do with Rey's charges in Johnson County, including pictures of the coolers containing Jessica Rey's body and the fact that Rey dismembered her in Kansas City, Missouri.

Rey still faces a charge of abandoning a corpse in Jackson County, Missouri.

Hill argued that the jury found Rey guilty of lesser charges and not the aggravated charges that the state brought forward.

The judge denied Rey's motion for a new trial.

Rey has already had several attorneys and has filed multiple motions, causing several delays in the court process. He was initially scheduled to be sentenced in March but filed a motion for Cameron to recuse herself. Chief Judge Thomas Ryan ruled she would stay on the case.

"I think there's going to come to a point with the judge (to say), ‘Okay, that's enough, Mr. Cornwell is going to stay with you,'" Cornwell said.