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Scheduled to take a plea offer, accused rapist instead fires attorneys

Scheduled to take a plea offer, accused rapist instead fires attorneys


Robert Eaton listens to his attorney during a pretrial in August 2019. He is accused of luring a female acquaintance to his home, sexually assaulting her and then engaging in a standoff with law enforcement.

A Trevor man accused of a violent rape and attempted murder had been expected to take a plea deal this week. Instead, he fired his attorneys.

Robert Eaton Jr., 34, is charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree sexual assault with use of a dangerous weapon and a series of other felonies for the February 2019 alleged violent attack on a woman at his home.

Eaton is alleged to have beaten, sexually assaulted and shot at the woman after she came to his home to help in response to a series of texts he sent threatening suicide. The woman had known Eaton since she was a teenager.

The woman escaped his home and hid outside in freezing temperatures until Kenosha deputies arrived. Eaton then had a several-hour standoff with law enforcement before his arrest.

If convicted of all the charges against him, Eaton faces a possible sentence of up to 130 years in prison.

Eaton was scheduled to accept a negotiated plea agreement to lesser charges Monday. Instead, he asked for additional time. On Thursday, Eaton told Judge David Wilk he wanted to fire his private attorneys Patrick Cafferty and Carl Johnson.

“Mr. Eaton has requested of Mr. Johnson and I that we ask for leave to withdraw from his case and that his case be referred to the public defender’s office,” Cafferty said.

Eaton told Wilk that his relationship with his attorneys had broken down.

“Is that breakdown in communication irreparable, in other words can it be fixed?” Wilk asked.

“No,” Eaton answered.

Assistant District Attorney Rosa Delgado said that, with Eaton’s decision, the state was withdrawing its plea offer.

“The state did advise the defense on Monday that if the offer that I was told was agreed upon was not accepted, the state would revoke that offer,” she said.

The plea offer was not outlined in court.

Wilk warned Eaton that whoever is appointed to his case may give him the same advice as Cafferty and Johnson.

He then approved Eaton’s decision to part with his lawyers, saying after questioning Eaton that the defendant was making his decision ”freely, voluntarily and knowingly” as the law requires.

“The court’s role isn’t to determine whether that’s a good decision or a bad decision,” Wilk said.

Eaton will next appear in court Aug. 4 for a status hearing.


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