Bridgeport defendant wants to withdraw guilty pleas in 2016 murder of Stamford teen
A Bridgeport man who recently took a plea deal in a city murder from over seven years ago now wants to go to trial instead. Onaje Smith, 25, filed a motion to withdraw his guilty pleas in the deadly shooting of Shane Slinsky, 18, of Stamford.
In October, Smith pleaded guilty to murder and carrying a pistol without a permit, two of the five charges he faced in the case. It came as jury selection for his trial was almost done. The plea deal called for Judge Tracy Lee Dayton to sentence Smith to 35 years in prison. That hearing was set for Friday but is now up in the air.
Instead, Smith went before Dayton on Monday and claimed his attorney had misled him during plea negotiations, providing ineffective counsel and pressuring him to take the offer. Smith said he wasn’t aware that there would be no chance of early release until he’d served a minimum of 26 years.
“Mr. Smith's claim is that I provided him with incorrect advice regarding the potential sentencing that he would be receiving as a result of that plea,” Attorney Francis O’Reilly told the court.
O’Reilly said he disagreed with the allegations and added, “No one was forcing him to take a plea, Your Honor.”
Dayton pulled out the transcript from the plea hearing and said it showed she went over the sentence with Smith before his entered his pleas. According to the judge, the transcript also showed she questioned Smith about his representation before accepting the guilty pleas, and his answers contradict what he’s saying now.
Dayton said if Smith went to trial and was convicted on all charges—murder, felony murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery with a deadly weapon, and carrying a pistol without a permit—he was looking at life in prison.
The case dates back to Aug. 27, 2016, when Slinsky was fatally shot on Wood Terrace in Bridgeport. According to police, Slinsky's former longtime friend, Jeremy Middleton, conspired with Smith and lured Slinsky from Stamford to Bridgeport, where Smith robbed him and shot him. Middleton previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and would've been called to testify against Smith at trial.
In court Monday, Smith also alleged O'Reilly didn't have his private investigator look into two witnesses who could've helped the defense. Dayton said she wants to hear from that investigator before making a decision on whether to allow the plea withdrawal. Both sides are set to meet back at the Bridgeport Judicial District Courthouse on Wednesday afternoon. The judge said she’ll rule then whether the sentencing will go forward at the end of the week.