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Appeals court orders hearing in Falls double stabbing

The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court on Friday ordered Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon to hold a hearing on whether a Niagara Falls man pleaded guilty to two stabbings after receiving faulty legal advice.

Derrick L. Hall was sentenced in March 2013 to five years in state prison for stabbing two men Aug. 28, 2011, in what police said was an argument after the men accused Hall of breaking into vehicles on Welch Avenue in the Falls. Before sentencing, Hall sought to withdraw his plea, contending that attorney Samuel Davis told him he probably would be convicted at trial and would receive sentences totaling more than 20 years. Davis said when the motion was argued that he had told Hall that such sentencing was “almost certain,” according to a transcript.

Hall claimed in a letter to Sheldon that Davis forced him to plead guilty to two counts of second-degree assault. Sheldon agreed to a seven-year sentencing limit and eventually gave Hall concurrent sentences of five years each.

Sheldon should have held a hearing to explore the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel instead of simply refusing to let Hall out of the plea bargain, the appeals court said.

Hall, 47, is serving his time in Cayuga Correctional Facility. His earliest possible parole date is July 5, 2017, according to the state prison website.