ST. ALBANS — Former state senator Norm McAllister will get his day in court, again.
A Franklin County Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that McAllister can withdraw the “no contest” plea he entered in January immediately before what would have been his second trial on sexual assault charges.
The decision follows two February court hearings in which McAllister’s new defense attorney, Robert Katims, argued McAllister had been pressured into accepting the plea agreement without understanding its consequences. Although Judge Martin A. Maley did not find McAllister’s testimony at those hearings entirely credible, he did agree that McAllister had fair and just cause to remove his plea, in part because he “did not adequately understand the consequences of the plea.”
McAllister faced up to seven years in prison per the plea agreement, which reduced a prior sexual assault charge to a charge of lewd and lascivious conduct carrying a maximum of five years. With the plea agreement gone, McAllister will be tried on sexual assault, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Full coverage of the judge’s decision will be available in Friday’s Messenger.