A Howard man accused of killing a Snow Shoe man will receive new counsel, a Centre County judge ruled Tuesday.
Matthew Dreibelbis, 37, was charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, aggravated assault, possession of a weapon and simple assault after the shooting death of Jeremy D. Cantolina, 38, in August. The trial had previously been postponed until the February term of court.
Dreibelbis appeared Tuesday with his attorney, Deb Lux, a public defender, before county Judge Jonathan Grine in a bid to receive new counsel. Dreibelbis had previously written a letter to Centre County Judge Katherine Oliver on Nov. 29, voicing his concern over his defense and his belief that Lux had refused to file motions to dismiss evidence and “has inadequately represented me.”
Grine stated that evidence presented at the preliminary hearing — including police testimony to discovering Cantolina’s body, the alleged murder weapon and Dreibelbis’ own statements — were sufficient to have him bound over on the charges of first-degree murder. Grine also indicated that if he were in the position to, he would continue to deny bail based on the severity of the charges.
Grine advised Dreibelbis that he should retain Lux as his counsel based on her years of experience.
Dreibelbis agreed with Grine’s explanations and said he wished to continue to be represented by Lux. However, Lux requested that she no longer be Dreibelbis’ counsel, saying that in his letter to Oliver — a public document — he claimed Lux had lied to him, breaking the attorney-client privilege.
Grine agreed to excuse Lux as Dreibelbis’ attorney, extending the trial to the April term so Dreibelbis’ new attorney will have time to familiarize himself or herself with the case and receive discovery items from the District Attorney’s Office. Grine also indicated that Dreibelbis has the option to hire an attorney or represent himself.
It’s unknown at this time who will be his attorney.