A group of potential jurors was sitting up on the third floor of Danbury Superior Court Tuesday morning, expecting to be selected for a criminal case, while on the second floor, Henrique Marques, 25, of Danbury, was facing either trial or a last-second plea bargain.
State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky offered Margues a plea bargain deal that would give him a prison sentence that would be suspended after 9 months served, followed by probation. Marques was facing more than 10 years in prison if convicted of Risk of Injury to a minor. He had been charged on Sept. 20, 2010 with having sex with a 15-year-old girl in his apartment.
Superior Court Judge John Blawie asked Marques a series of questions to make sure Marques had been informed of his rights, and he was making the decision of trial or plea willingly and with a clear mind.
Upon being asked if he would take the deal and plead guilty, Marques stood next to his attorney Jennifer Tunnard and didn't answer or say anything for 45 seconds.
"This is the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my life," Marques said. My head is saying this is a good deal and I really am thankful to Mr. Sedensky, Marques continued. "My heart is telling me to fight it."
Judge Blawie said he didn't want to force Marques to decide one way or another, and he certainly didn't want to bludgeon Marques into pleading guilty.
You have the right to a trial. It's down for jury selection today, Judge Blawie said. This case has been pending for two years. Why don't you talk to your attorney in the hallway. Blawie said his choices were a trial or the plea deal. Blawie said he'd accept what Marques said, as long as he decided voluntarily.
After about 10 minutes, Marques walked back into the court and agreed to stand trial. Jury selection was scheduled to start Tuesday.