WILKES-BARRE – An Edwardsville man who pleaded guilty in June to pouring chemicals on three people and stabbing one in a March 2012 incident withdrew that plea Friday.
Jeremiah Hightower, 41, of Roosevelt Street, appeared before Judge Michael Vough at a hearing at which he was originally scheduled to be sentenced on charges of aggravated assault and burglary stemming from the incident at the Hilltop Apartments that resulted in a building being evacuated.
Hightower said he didn’t do what prosecutors claim and that he felt intimidated by Vough at his guilty plea hearing.
“I don’t mean to upset you … but I was confused. I couldn’t answer yes or no (to your questions),” Hightower told Vough. “I was nervous.”
Vough said he received a letter that Hightower wrote to President Judge Thomas Burke about feeling intimidated by Vough as his guilty plea hearing, and that Hightower didn’t want to further upset the judge.
Vough said he was not upset with Hightower’s remarks and didn’t want him to plead guilty to something he didn’t do.
“I want to expose the truth,” Hightower said. “I want the opportunity to fight for my name.”
Vough granted Hightower’s request to withdraw his guilty plea and said he would get his day in court – Monday morning – to face a jury trial.
Hightower said he had hoped to have a little more time to file a request to be released on bail, to obtain a job and to pay his attorney, Anthony Moses, for a proper defense.
Vough said Hightower is one of 40 cases on a list Monday to go to trial, and that he still has time to file a bail request.
According to court papers, on March 15, 2012, Kim Malesinski told police Hightower had been in contact with her earlier in the day, asking her to have sex. When she refused, Hightower took her cellphone and left the apartment.
When Hightower returned, Malesinski, Mallory Corcoran and John DePrimo locked themselves in a bedroom in Malesinski’s apartment. Hightower allegedly forced open the door and sat on Corcoran’s legs, slamming her head against the wall numerous times, according to court papers.
Malesinski told police Hightower left the bedroom and Corcoran called 911. Hightower allegedly returned to the bedroom, dousing the three with bleach and ammonia, which burned their eyes and skin.
Malesinski said Hightower then smashed a drinking glass and stabbed her in the chest with it, according to court papers.
Malesinski and Corcoran were treated at an area hospital.