Judge hears argument for withdrawing guilty plea by woman convicted of Portage murder


    Theresa Petto hearing Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019.

    Convicted killer Theresa Petto asked for a new trial after she pleaded guilty, but mentally ill to murder charges in 2016.

    Petto pleaded her case to the court Thursday and said her attorney back in 2016 advised her she wouldn't get mental health care unless she pleaded guilty, which was not true.

    Kalamazoo Circuit Court Judge Alexander Lipsey presided over the hearing on whether or not to grant a motion by Petto's attorney asking to withdraw the guilty plea and grant her a new trial.

    Petto said she entered her guilty plea before she was ever able take the stand in her 2016 trial to tell her side of the story.

    Prosecutors objected to revealing any details about the murder case and wanted to focus only on what was at stake during the hearing.

    According to police, on the night of June 14, 2015, investigators said Petto shot 25-year-old Rachel Drafta in the driveway of her parent’s home in Portage. Drafta died from her injuries two days later.

    Friends and family of Petto testified that her attorney in 2016, Jason Ronning, told her she would only be guaranteed mental health care if she pleaded guilty, but mentally ill.

    Petto's mother said she is getting some mental health treatment in prison.

    Lipsey adjourned court Thursday, but no date has been set as to when he'll make the decision on Petto's motion to withdraw her guilty plea or if she would be granted a new trial.

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