Lehigh Valley

Driver accused in fiery, fatal wreck denied new attorney

Start of the trial pushed back until at least July

EASTON, Pa. - Prosecutors said there are no more plea deals to be had for the New Jersey man accused of causing a fiery crash last year that killed three.

Terrell Barclay faces three counts each of homicide by vehicle and driving under the influence along with a host of other charges in connection with the deadly May 2016 crash in Bethlehem Township. He’s currently in Northampton County Prison awaiting a trial that was scheduled to begin May 1, but has now been delayed.

The 28-year-old Essex County man, who rejected an earlier plea deal, asked a Northampton County judge to assign him a new attorney.

Barclay filed court papers on April 3, asking for a change of appointed counsel. The court appointed Timothy Prendergast in September 2016, and Barclay maintains his attorney “has not properly or effectively represented” him since, according to court records.

Barclay estimates that he’s met with his attorney only four times to discuss his case and said Prendergast has tried to “coerce” him into taking a plea deal despite maintaining his innocence.

Barclay goes so far as to insist Prendergast’s representation has become a “conflict of interest” because his attorney is presuming his guilt instead of trying to prove him innocent.

“I, Terrell Barclay due to these above mentioned reasons feel Mr. Prendergast is not in my best interest which makes his attempt at representation ineffective,” Barclay argues in his hand-written motion.

In March, Prendergast told the judge that his client was still weighing a plea deal that could have seen Barclay spend up to 30 years in prison for the deaths of Amanda Martin, Joshua Edwards and Ashlee Mosher.

The Northampton County District Attorney's Office made an offer that would have seen Barclay plead guilty to three counts of vehicular homicide while DUI. He would have been sentenced to 5 to 10 years on each count to be served consecutively.

Barclay has since rejected the plea offer.

Prendergast asked Judge Michael Koury on Thursday to delay the start of the trial in order to effectively prepare now that his client rejected a plea deal. And with a trial looming, Koury asked Barclay whether he still wanted to change attorneys.

Wearing a neck brace and a brace on his left arm, Barclay reiterated his concerns that Prendergast is not communicating effectively with him and keeps pushing him to take a plea deal.

"Legal advice should be legal advice," Barclay said. "He should be helping me. He's not helping me."

In response to a question from the judge, Assistant District Attorney Joseph Lupackino confirmed that the district attorney's office is no longer offering a plea deal. Koury told Barclay that left him with two choices: plead guilty to every single charge or go to trial.

Prendergast told the judge that he couldn't speak to how his client characterized their communications, but said he has reviewed videos of the crash and all the available discovery with Barclay. He noted that it's his duty as an attorney to review all the evidence and weigh it against a plea offer.

"I have a tendency to be very realistic with my clients when discussing a trial," Prendergast said.

Koury denied Barclay's motion for new appointed counsel. He'll now either need to hire his own private attorney or move ahead to trial with Prendergast.

Scheduling conflicts have put the start of the trial in limbo. Either Koury will preside over the trial in September or a new judge will be assigned to the case for a July trial date.

Investigators allege Barclay was drunk and high when he crashed into a row of parked cars along Willow Park Road.

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