Judge denies arrow-shooting assault suspect to withdraw plea

A Peekskill man who was to be sentenced today for shooting a man in the neck with an arrow last year instead got some harsh words from Westchester County Judge James Hubert.

Lee S. Johnson, (left) who has been held at the Westchester County jail on $50,000 bail since his arrest, had asked the judge in writing on Dec. 17 to withdraw his guilty plea and be assigned a new lawyer.

Hubert told him that he needed a good legal reason to withdraw his plea, not just because he had “a mere change of heart.” Hubert suggested that Johnson, 54, had been listening to “jailhouse lawyers” who told him to fight the charges. Johnson had pleaded guilty to felony attempted assault, felony weapon possession and misdemeanor menacing charges.

“You told me under oath that you did this crime,” he said, reminding Johnson that he had also agreed to serve five years in prison for the crime.

Johnson tried to speak, but Hubert would not let him.

“I talk, you listen,” he said. “It’s important that you listen because you have a lot at stake.”

Hubert told Johnson that he was assigned a good lawyer and there was no reason that Westchester Legal Aid lawyer Anne Bianchi should be dismissed from the case. He also said that no one forced him to plead guilty on Nov. 16.

“We were about to start your trial. You pulled the trigger. You stopped the trial.”

Johnson was charged with shooting Wayne Inesta, a 40-year-old Peekskill resident, on March 10, when a group of friends gathered at Johnson’s home at 165 Smith St.

Police said Inesta and Johnson got into an argument that escalated to a physical fight in which Inesta beat up Johnson. As Inesta was leaving, polcie said, Johnson got a crossbow from somewhere in the house and shot at him. The arrow struck Inesta in the neck.

Neighbors heard the commotion and called police. A police officer found Inesta walking near 720 South St. He removed the arrow himself and collapsed after losing a large amount of blood.

Rebecca Baker

Rebecca Baker joined The Journal News in March 2004. She covers Eastchester, Bronxville and Tuckahoe, and was previously the state and county courts reporter in Westchester County. In prior jobs, she covered the Town of Greenburgh and Rockland County government and politics. Before coming to The Journal News, she was a municipal reporter for newspapers in New Haven, Conn. and Warren, Ohio.