CANTON A Watertown man who is representing himself on drug charges was released from jail Friday by St. Lawrence County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards after a key witness failed to show up at a hearing.
Anthony J. Peterkin Sr., 50, who has represented himself on previous charges, said he was pleased but surprised by his release, which will be under the supervision of the Probation Department. His trial on charges of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance is scheduled for Sept. 17.
Ive lost before but Ive won before, too, Mr. Peterkin said as he walked out of court. I am very good. Ive had lots of practice.
Previous Times reports show Mr. Peterkin has acted as his own attorney in Jefferson County Court and won an acquittal on a felony assault charge in 2002.
On Friday, Mr. Peterkin had the assistance of attorney Brian D. Pilatzke but he did most of the talking.
Mr. Peterkin had previously unsuccessfully argued that he should be released on his own recognizance because he was misidentified as someone who sold cocaine in Ogdensburg on March 21, 2012. His argument was bolstered Friday when the confidential informant who had fingered him failed to show up for the hearing.
Mr. Peterkin said that the informant is a known drug user whose veracity is questionable and that other evidence linking him to a serious crime is flimsy.
This witness not showing up supports everything Ive been saying, Mr. Peterkin told Judge Richards. Im not going to plead guilty. Im going to go to trial, where I will be found innocent. Theres nothing in here that shows I agreed to sell crack cocaine.
Mr. Peterkin said he deserved to be free pending his trial.
Mr. Peterkin has 18 convictions, three of them felonies, Assistant District Attorney Andrew T. Botts said.
Mr. Peterkin said he is on parole, which is scheduled to end in a few weeks.
Keeping me in jail is a complete waste of my life, he said. Im not an angel, but in this case, no.
Judge Richards ordered Mr. Peterkin, who will stay at a budget motel on outer Washington Street in Watertown, to comply with standard conditions for those under the supervision of probation, including no alcohol or drugs, and no contact with the confidential informant.