Drifter Accused in Sex Assault Wants New Attorney

Accused of sexually molesting an 83-year-old woman in 2011, Dennis Dodson told a Cook County judge Wednesday that he wants a new attorney but the judge refused.

A homeless man charged in the 2011 sexual assault of an 83-year-old woman asked for a new public defender Wednesday, just as it looked as though a trial date may be getting close.

But the request was denied by Judge John J. Hynes.

Dodson, 36, appeared in Hynes' Bridgeview courtroom with his public defender, whose name could not immediately be confirmed. He has been in custody since Sept. 26, 2011 after receiving no bail during his bond hearing more than a year ago.

Prosecutors allege that , where he was living at the time. She had offered Dodson food and crackers two days prior, and returned to tell him she was working to find him a shelter, according to reports. 

Dodson's rap sheet includes 60 arrests in 15 states and his attorneys have said has a history of mental health issues; however, initial court-appointed testing determined he was mentally fit.

Almost as soon as he entered the courtroom Wednesday dressed in standard khaki-colored Cook County Department of Corrections garb, Dodson handed his attorney a folded up piece of paper and began whispering to her.

When he was allowed to address the judge, Dodson announced, "Here the thing: I just want a new attorney."

"Here's the thing: you don't get a new attorney," Hynes responded before explaining that, because Dodson has a public defender, he has to move forward with the attorney assigned to him.

"We don't shop around attorneys once you're assigned to one within the office," Hynes continued. " Now, you're welcome to hire [an attorney] if you have the money or if your family has the money."

Dodson didn't speak again during the hearing and he did not give a reason for why he wanted a new attorney.

Although the discovery phase of the Dodson's case was deemed complete at his last hearing, his public defender told the judge she is missing information from police. Hynes advised her to subpoena the police, and prosecutors also said they would attempt to get the information as well.

Dodson's next hearing is set for Dec. 10.

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