This article was originally published on goerie.com on December 22, 2017 by Madeleine O’Neill
A defendant who pleaded guilty in a fatal shooting has been allowed to withdraw that plea and instead go to trial.
Grover H. Lyons, who was charged with homicide in the Dec. 31 shooting death of 28-year-old Darrin Germany Jr., pleaded guilty in October to a first-degree felony count of voluntary manslaughter.
He later claimed that he thought he was pleading to involuntary manslaughter, and that he fired at Germany out of self-defense.
“I just feel if someone is firing at you that you should have the right to stand your ground,” Lyons, 26, said at a hearing Friday on his request to take back his plea.
Erie County Judge John J. Mead ruled later in the day that Lyons may withdraw his plea and face trial in May.
“Defendant may have a plausible self-defense claim at trial,” Mead wrote in his order. “Defendant testified at the hearing that he did shoot at the victim, but only after the victim shot at him.”
Mead dismissed Lyons’ claim that he misunderstood that he was pleading to voluntary manslaughter. Lyons repeatedly affirmed that he understood what he was pleading to at the Oct. 2 plea hearing.
Jury selection was set to begin in Lyons’ homicide trial when he instead chose to accept the plea bargain and plead guilty to the voluntary manslaughter charge and third-degree felony counts of carrying a firearm without a license and flight to avoid apprehension.
Mead and Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri each warned Lyons that he would not be allowed to change his mind about entering the plea. Lyons said that he understood.
But in a series of letters written to Mead in October, Lyons asked to take back the plea.