UPDATE: Blacksburg defense lawyer and former client square off in court
A grand jury will now consider weapons and drug charges against Joe Painter
A long-time defense lawyer from Blacksburg was in court Wednesday.
The preliminary hearing began with a surprise, when Joe Painter's defense lawyer and law practice partner pulled himself from the case.
As the hearing began, Wade McNichols told the judge he'd learned that investigators initially thought one of the guns seized, might belong to him. That scenario didn't turn out to be true, but that was enough reason to get Painter a new defense lawyer.
Painter, in a grey suit, walked into court with a limp and obvious jitters. The 66 year old lawyer said those jitters were due to a nerve condition caused by prescription medication he's currently taking.
The contrast between Painter and Doris Annie Oliver, the felon police say was with him at the time of his arrest, was striking. Painter, out on bond and able to appear in court in a suit, walked in slowly and leaning on a gold colored cane. A court bailiff helped him into his chair, I saw the deputy whisper to Painter, "Sit right here Joe."
By comparison, Oliver, who was denied bond at a previous hearing, was hustled in. Wearing a bright orange jail jumpsuit, her hands and feet in shackles, her brown hair dangling in her face, making it hard to see her profile from where I sat.
Oliver, an admitted drug addict, seemed to make it a point to not look at Painter, once her court-appointed defense lawyer. The 22-year-old felon did tell Randy Jones, Painter's new lawyer, that his 66-year-old client took advantage of her.
Several times during the hearing, the prosecutor, the defense and even the judge asked Oliver to speak louder. The bailiffs at least twice pushed Oliver's seat closer to the microphone.
Oliver said Painter became her court appointed lawyer back in 2010, and at least on one occasion, they'd engaged in oral sex. Oliver said sometimes she showered in front of Painter because that's what he wanted.
Over the next three years, Oliver told the court, that Painter put her in motels, gave her drugs and cash, knowing she was buying more drugs with his money.
Painter's family told me at an earlier hearing, that he too was addicted to pain pills. Wednesday, Jones asked Oliver if she knew that someone had allegedly been trying to blackmail his client, her former lawyer.
"I guess it never crossed your mind, said Jones, "maybe that you were taking advantage of Mr Painter? Oliver, sitting five feet away and staring directly at the judge, said ''I feel like I was taken advantage of," Jones cut in and asked again, 'You feel like you were taken advantage of?" "Yes sir," said Oliver.
Special prosecutor Joan Ziglar, called several witnesses to the stand during the two hour hearing. Afterwards, I caught up with Painter as he was leaving the Montgomery County courthouse, wobbling to his car with his assistant at his side. I asked Painter how the day went. Was the day frustrating, was he pleased with what took place? Painter, his jaw twitching and his body leaning on that gold cane, said ''[I'm] not frustrated, but you know anything short of a dismissal, you're not pleased. I was a little surprised that the prosecutor was desperately trying to bring back Ms. Oliver."
Near the end of the hearing, prosecutor Ziglar asked retired judge Joseph Canada, if Oliver could be brought back into the courtroom for a few more questions.
Canada seemed surprised and said he thought both sides had finished questioning Oliver, so he allowed her to be sent back to the Western Virginia Regional Jail.
Ziglar paused then thanked Canada and said [sending Oliver back to jail] was ok.
Three felonies; one for drug possession and two firearms charges, will now be certified to the grand jury which is slated to meet again in October.
A judge certified three felony charges against defense attorney Joe Painter following a preliminary hearing Wednesday.
A grand jury will consider two firearms charges and one drug count in October.
Painter did not testify at Wednesday's hearing in Christiansburg. About ten witnesses, did, however. One of them was Doris Ann Oliver, the convicted felon to whom Painter allegedly gave the weapons and drugs.
Painter is free on bond while the case proceeds.
Watch WDBJ7 at Six tonight for more on this case.
There's a preliminary hearing set for today for a longtime, local defense attorney.
Police arrested Joe Painter while he was sitting in a car in a hotel parking lot in Christiansburg back in February.
A convicted felon was supposedly in the car with him, and police say Painter was fighting with that woman.
Officers also say he'd given that woman a gun, which would be a crime.
They arrested him for that and for supposedly being drunk and having drugs on him.
We'll let you know what happens at the hearing that's set for one this afternoon.
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