AP NEWS

Judge Holds Attorney In Contempt In Homicide Case; Orders Fine To Be Paid To Food Pantry

April 25, 2019

WILKES-BARRE - A Luzerne County judge has held a Kingston defense attorney in contempt of court for skipping a hearing Wednesday on a homicide case where the suspect was expected to plead guilty. But, the reason wasn’t as egregious as it sounds. The suspect, Isaish Jennings, had hired a new private attorney, who was present in court. Still, Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr. was not happy that Attorney Mark Henrichs failed to appear without getting court approval to withdraw from the case. Sklarosky held Henrichs in contempt of court and fined him $300. The judge ordered that the money be paid to the St. Vincent De Paul Kitchen in Wilkes-Barre within 20 days. Jennings, 21, and another man are charged in a February 2018 homicide that occurred during a drug robbery at 77 Hutson St. in Wilkes-Barre. Prosecutors say Jennings and Robert Rodriguez entered the home and opened fire, fatally shooting Trevor Oliver, 41, and wounding Oliver’s girlfriend, Ingrid Vanessa Batista, 39, who was shot in the head, breast and wrist but survived. Both are charged with homicide, attempted homicide and conspiracy to commit homicide. Jennings and prosecutors have been negotiating a plea agreement, which was supposed to be finalized Wednesday in court. Details of the agreement have not been revealed. However, Jennings recently dismissed Henrichs and hired attorney Bernie Brown, a Lackawanna County defense attorney who represented convicted killer Hugo Selenski. Brown recently entered his appearance as Jennings’ attorney, but had no communication with Henrichs. “Apparently, there should have been a withdrawal order or Mr. Henrichs should have been there to ask to be removed from the case. It essentially was not a proper withdrawal,” Brown said. Henrichs could not immediately be reached Thursday. A staffer at his office said he was in court. Jennings’ switch of attorneys does not mean he’s now looking to contest the charges against him, Brown said. “Mr. Jennings is not looking for a trial. As far as what’s been offered and what’s been negotiated, he’s interested in knowing what the terms will be,” Brown said. “We have reviewed the plea agreement and it’s not necessarily true that we are not interested in the current offer. I want to review the file to make sure it’s in the best interest of Mr. Jennings.”