Second plea deal falls apart in trial of man accused of separate crimes on a GRTC bus

Posted at 7:03 PM, Aug 09, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- For the second time in as many months, a plea agreement has fallen apart for a man accused of two separate crimes on a GRTC bus in 2021.

A trial on more serious charges is now likely.

Prosecutors said Dexter Superville attacked a GRTC bus driver in October 2021 near Gilpin Court and charged him with unlawful wounding and strangulation.

In November 2021, they alleged he shot and killed Jonathan Contreras, 23, as the victim sat on a bus at Southside Plaza. He was charged with first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Last month, Superville was supposed to plead guilty in both cases last month, but to a lesser second-degree murder charge in the Contreras case and would serve 23 years of a 50-year sentence (contingent on his behavior). That plea was rejected by Richmond Circuit Court Judge Jacqueline McClenney who said "more time is needed" and the two parties could present the deal to a different judge.

Wednesday, the same plea deal was being presented to Richmond Circuit Court Judge Clarence Jenkins.

However, when Superville was asked how he pled to the first charge, he said "not guilty" and then added he wanted to make a motion to remove both of his attorneys as his legal representation (Superville was given a court appointed attorney for each of the two incidents).

Judge Jenkins asked Superville if he needed to take a moment, but Superville said he did not and that his "decision is final". He then told the court he had become discouraged with how his case had proceeded and he felt they had not pursued all avenues for his defense. He added that he wanted a mental health evaluation ordered for himself.

Superville's attorney in the homicide case, Kevin Purnell, told the court this was the first time he had heard of his client's complaints.

His attorney in the assault case, Rebecca Pensak, told the court there had been a breakdown in communication between her and Superville, but added she was not joining Superville in his request.

The judge then assigned Purnell to handle both cases.

A status hearing for the case will be held on September 7.

Afterwards, Purnell told CBS 6 that the plea agreement had been ended.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Shannon Kohler, who is prosecuting the case, said she anticipates that a trial date will now be set for this matter and would include the more serious first-degree murder charge.

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