Monday, August 26, 2002

Notable cases of self-defense




By Marie McCain mmccain@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Whether it was a distrust of the justice system, a confidence in their intelligence, or an opportunity to share their points of view with a captive audience, some defendants - locally and nationally - who represented themselves in serious criminal cases in court, or who tried to:

        • Ted Bundy, 42, a serial killer believed to have murdered more than 28 women, was executed in Florida in 1989. The killings took place in Washington, Utah, Colorado and Florida. During his jury trials in Utah and Florida, this one-time law student acted as his own attorney. In Utah, he nearly persuaded a jury to acquit him.

        • Alton Coleman, 46, believed to have killed eight people during a multistate rampage in 1984, acted as his own co-counsel during his 1985 trial in Hamilton County. He was found guilty of the beating death of a Norwood woman, sentenced to death and executed in Lucasville in April.

        • Colin Ferguson, 35, shot six people to death and wounded 19 others inside a crowded railcar bound for Long Island, N.Y. Over his attorneys' objections - who argued he was insane - Mr. Ferguson was declared competent and opted to represent himself. He was convicted of the killings by a jury in 1993 and sentenced to six-life terms in prison.

        • James Traficant, 61, former Ohio Congressman is not an attorney, yet he has twice defended himself before a jury on criminal charges. In April, a federal jury in Cleveland found him guilty of 10 counts of bribery, tax evasion and racketeering. He hired a lawyer to represent him at sentencing, but abruptly fired him during the hearing July 30. He was ordered to serve eight years in prison and was expelled from Congress last month

        • DeMarlo Hayes, 27, goes to trial in January on charges that she killed her 9-year-old son, Diarro. The Silverton woman has gone through four attorneys. She could face the death penalty if convicted and was appointed two new attorneys last month. She asked a judge if she could represent herself at trial because she believed her defense attorneys did not introduce evidence favorable to her case at various hearings. The request was denied.

        • Zacarias Moussaoui, 34, a French national believed to be the “20th hijacker” in the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks, has been allowed to represent himself in federal court. He is accused of conspiring to commit the terrorist attacks on America. He claims he had no contact with the 19 men who hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and crashed in a field outside Philadelphia. He was found mentally competent to represent himself and fired his defense attorneys.

       



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