The trial for Paul Martell, a Colchester man accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy, will be delayed after a judge granted his request for a new lawyer last Thursday.

Martell’s lawyer, Jasdeep Pannu, told Judge Nancy Waples he arrived in court believing his client would be withdrawing the motion.

“Now seeing him today … I’m not sure of Mr. Martell’s status anymore,” Pannu said.

Waples asked Martell if there was a breakdown in communication with his lawyer.

“There seems to be,” Martell said.

He then stood, his hands shackled tightly behind his gray shirt, before explaining he’s only heard from his lawyer twice since filing the motion May 4 — once when Pannu called saying he’d like to “repair the thing,” and a second time to apologize for a missed court date.   

Pannu alluded to Martell’s possible penalty — a maximum of two life sentences — and said he always defers to the client in situations like this.

“These cases are, as the court knows — I don’t think the stakes get any higher,” he said.

The five-minute hearing came one day before a motion deadline was set by Judge Michael Kupersmith in April and less than three weeks before a July 10 jury drawing.

Before granting the motion, Waples said Martell’s trial would be “significantly delayed” due to his request. She then set a 30-day continuance to allow his newly appointed lawyer to file any requests or motions.

Martell, a convicted sex offender, previously served 12 years in prison.

He has been held without bail since April after pleading not guilty to charges of two counts of sexually assaulting a victim under 13 and one count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.

At his bail hearing in April, detectives testified Martell admitted the abuse while in the hospital. He was being treated for a pill overdose, court records show, which he told detectives resulted from a confrontation with his ex-wife, to whom he also confessed the boy’s accusations were true.