Oats fires attorney, elects to represent himself in murder trial

JEFFERSON COUNTY — In a whirlwind of activity this week a 19-year-old Mt. Vernon man charged in Jefferson County court with first degree murder fired his public defender and decided to proceed pro se to jury trial, which is scheduled to begin May 1.

Roderick Shondale Oats Jr
(Source: MVPD)

Roderick S. Oats, Jr., is facing three counts first degree murder in connection with the July 2017 shooting death of Carlos Johnson.

After receiving a call of shots fired in the 700 block of South 25th Street, the Mt. Vernon Police Department was contacted by an area hospital about a man in the emergency room with gunshot wounds. Johnson later died at the hospital of his injuries.

Investigators identified Oats, Jr. as a suspect in the shooting after talking to several witnesses. He was arrested late that same night in Benton.

At a final pre-trial hearing Tuesday a defense motion to continue the jury trial was denied and it was instead confirmed for jury selection to begin at 9 a.m. May 1. The following day Oats filed a motion firing his public defender and requesting to proceed with the trial as his own counsel, which was granted.

Oats’ jury trial is just one of two Jefferson County jury trials scheduled for May 1 with a pro se defense.

While State’s Attorney Sean Featherstun and Assistant State’s Attorney Julie Kozuszek try the Oats murder case in courtroom A, Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick Costa will be trying the case pro se case of 33-year-old Rodney Moore in courtroom C.

Moore, of Mt. Vernon, is charged with Class 2 felony being a felon in possession of a firearm with a prior conviction and Class 3 felony possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number.

He was arrested in August 2017 and has been representing himself since early in the case.