Third public defender assigned to local man alleged of aggravated criminal sexual abuse

By Gary Scott on April 5, 2018 at 7:27am

A South Jacksonville man accused of aggravated criminal sexual abuse is being appointed his third, and likely final, public defender.

According to the Jacksonville Journal Courier, 40-year old Joshua Bruns appeared in Morgan County Court with his defense attorney Jonathan Hearst, who filed a motion to withdraw from the case during yesterday’s hearing.

Hearst was in fact Bruns’ second defense attorney that had been appointed to him, and his request for withdrawal came without explanation to the court. Prior to Hearst, public defender Tom Piper was initially appointed to represent Bruns, but he also withdrew from the case this past October.

With Hearst now having withdrawn from the case, Judge Chris Reif warned Bruns that, if a third public defender was appointed, it would be the last, and that any need for defense going forward would have to be provided by a privately-hired attorney or Bruns himself.

Bruns is alleged to have knowingly fondled the breasts of a family member under the age of 18 and soliciting the victim to touch him in a sexual manner following his arrest in March of 2017.

As for what’s next for Bruns, Judge Reif considered public defender Elliott Turpin as Bruns’ new attorney. However, Assistant State’s Attorney Chad Turner drew the Judge’s attention to a conflict of interest Turpin would have due to his representation of another individual alleged of permitting the sexual abuse of a child in connection with, but still separate from, Bruns’ case.

Bruns was subsequently appointed attorney Craig Grummel to be his public defender. Judge Reif also rescheduled Bruns’ court date to June 6th at 9 a.m.