RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. — Adult performer Mercedes Carrera appeared today before at the Rancho Cucamonga courthouse, where a new public defender, acting for an absent Dennis Wilkins, requested to reset her next hearing date to May 2 and the following deadline to 60 days after that.
The reason given by San Bernardino County Public Defender Shane R. Mathias, who was "handling all of Wilkins' cases this week," according to court sources, was that Carrera "is trying to hire private counsel."
Last week, Carrera had told XBIZ during an exclusive jailhouse interview, her first since her arrest on charges of child abuse and possession of drugs and guns on February 1, that Wilkins had failed to meet her outside of her court dates and was providing what she considered as inadequate legal help.
Carrera's husband, Jason Whitney, was also at today's hearing, where he was represented by a different "panel defender." Both attorneys apperared to have coordinated their responses, and Carrera and Whitney were referred to as "co-defendants."
Whitney was brought into the courtroom at 10 a.m., and had a 35-minute conference with his attorney. With a tidy, short haircut and a long white beard, he appeared calm and interested, even though he was wearing the green uniform that separates him from the general, orange-clad prison population and his hands were shackled together. At some point, Whitney's defender showed him what appeared to be two DVDs or CDs in transparent cases, which caused no significant reaction on the accused.
Whitney was removed at 10:35 and Carrera was walked into the courtroom, similarly green-clad and shackled. She appeared calm and attentive, as she conferenced with Public Defender Mathias for about 10 minutes.
Both conferences with the attorneys were held with no privacy, in plain view of the courtroom while the judge conducted other business. There were only two cases among 38 heard this morning by a substitute judge acting in place of an absent Judge Saleson, most of which were date resets or plea deals.
At 10:50 a.m., Whitney was brought back in and Mathias spoke for both defendants requesting the date reset.
"Do you understand the request?" the substitute judge asked each defendant. "Do you agree with your counsel?" he also asked. Both Carrera and Whitney, who were placed on opposite ends of the jury box and did not make eye contact during the hearing, answered affirmatively.
The new hearing, the "preliminary setting date" was then set for May 2, at 8:30 a.m.
XBIZ will publish an update on the case, with information we have received about the case after multiple interviews with people familiar with the couple and with the Rancho Cucamonga detective who arrested them, later today.
For last week's XBIZ story on the case, "Mercedes Carrera Faces a Sex Worker's Worst Nightmare," click here.