By NEIL HARVEY
The criminal case of a Franklin County man charged with more than a dozen felonies — including first-degree murder, carjacking, abduction and auto theft — has hit a snag because he and his defense attorney have parted ways.
John Robert Eames, 57, had been due to begin a three-day jury trial on Monday, but just prior to that he filed a motion requesting new representation.
Eames, who has been in custody since 2017, said he was unhappy in part because his lawyer, Carolyn Furrow, refused to send him discovery materials in his case.
At a hearing Thursday, Furrow told Judge Clyde Perdue that the documents in question contain items like police reports, and she did not feel it was safe.
“I’m not sending it into the jail for jailhouse snitches to look at,” she declared, adding that her relationship with Eames as a client was “irreparably damaged.”
“In 24 years I can’t even remember standing in this or any other courtroom and saying that about a client … and it pains me to do it today,” Furrow said. “I’ve got some major heartburn about that.”
Perdue granted Eames’ request, but heard opposition to it from Franklin County Commonwealth’s Attorney A.J. Dudley.
“There’s an obvious cloud in the sky,” Dudley told Perdue. “Why are we doing this one week before a three-day jury trial?”
He accused Eames of “trying to manufacture a complication in the attorney-client relationship,” but he said he did not expect the delay to cause a problem with the witnesses he planned to call.
Eames was first charged in November 2017, after police responded to a three-vehicle wreck not far from the Walgreens in Rocky Mount. A carjacking followed that crash and, soon after that, an armed stand-off was reported in nearby Glade Hill. A suspect turned the gun on himself and was hospitalized but later recovered, then was criminally charged.
While investigating the incident, deputies went to a home on Dillard Lane in Rocky Mount and found 80-year-old Dillard Lawson Nolen of Rocky Mount dead from a gunshot wound.
In November, Eames was indicted on 17 related felony counts.
A second man, Jacob Cotrail Altice, was charged with acting as an accessory after the fact to Nolen’s homicide. Altice had been scheduled to enter pleas in his case on Wednesday morning, but that hearing was also delayed because of the change in Eames’ case.
New court dates have not been set for either Eames or Altice.