ELYRIA — Convicted felon Andrew Lorenzana is trying again for an early release from the five-year prison sentence he is serving on drug and weapons charges as well as shooting a drug dealer who refused to sell him marijuana.
Lorenzana had tried for early release, known in legal circles as judicial release, in April, but following a bizarre set of circumstances, Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Raymond Ewers determined Lorenzana wasn’t eligible at the time to get out of prison.
The case originally had been before Common Pleas Judge James Burge, who took Lorenzana’s plea in October 2011 and imposed the five-year prison sentence.
Burge had planned to release Lorenzana during an April hearing, but halted the proceedings after Assistant County Prosecutor Nick Hanek and defense attorney Michael Stepanik pointed out that Lorenzana’s father was sitting on the bench with the judge that day.
Burge said at the time he didn’t initially realize that Raul Lorenzana, a convicted felon who has known the judge for years, was the father of Andrew Lorenzana. He said the elder Lorenzana was sitting with him because of an offer he made to Raul Lorenzana’s Lorain County Community College class to come to court and observe the proceedings.
The case was transferred to Ewers, who ruled that Lorenzana wouldn’t be eligible for judicial release until this month.
Stepanik argued in his request for judicial release that despite his client’s past, Lorenzana has done a lot to better himself while in prison, including obtaining a GED and working a steady job in the prison laundry.
Lorenzana wrote in a July letter that he wants to go home to his family, including a 3-year-old son, and that he has been rehabilitated. He said if released he hopes to open a barber shop.
“I thought prison was about rehabilitating the offender, his or hers behavior in prison and what they’ve learnt (sic) during their incarceration, not still being looked at the same way as they came in on the crime that they committed,” he wrote.
Hanek wrote in court documents filed Tuesday opposing early release that Lorenzana has encountered problems while in prison, including writing gang graffiti on a wall.
The Lorain police union also remains adamantly opposed to Lorenzana’s release, arguing that he is a career criminal who will only commit more crimes if let back onto the street.
Stepanik said police are only looking at one side of the issue.
“Sometimes the police, by virtue of their occupation, do not get a complete picture of a person,” he said. “They only know the bad things.”