Collier judge denies Mesac Damas' request to represent himself in death penalty case

Mesac Damas rubs his hairline as Collier Circuit Judge Franklin Baker explains the proceedings for Damas' request to represent himself in Baker's courtroom on Friday, July 8 , 2011, in Naples.  Baker denied Damas' request to represent himself in his murder trial. Damas will continue to be represented by the public defender's office.  David Albers/Staff

Photo by DAVID ALBERS

Mesac Damas rubs his hairline as Collier Circuit Judge Franklin Baker explains the proceedings for Damas' request to represent himself in Baker's courtroom on Friday, July 8 , 2011, in Naples. Baker denied Damas' request to represent himself in his murder trial. Damas will continue to be represented by the public defender's office. David Albers/Staff

Mesac Damas's request to represent himself denied

Mesac Damas' request to represent himself is ...

— Public defenders will continue to work Mesac Damas’ death penalty case after a judge on Friday denied Damas’ request to represent himself on six first-degree homicide charges.

Addressing Damas request of self-representation, Collier Circuit Judge Franklin Baker said Friday he was “not close to being confident” that Damas understands the seriousness of his request.

“You’ve got two good lawyers. I want to keep them involved in your case,” Baker said.

When Baker repeatedly asked why Damas wanted to represent himself, Damas responded only with religious preaching. He told Baker that “God is my lawyer” and “I don’t have a case.”

Midway through the 10-minute hearing, Damas was briefly removed from the courtroom for interrupting Baker. He returned and continued to interrupt Baker, refusing to directly address Baker’s questions.

“We’re a long ways from answering any questions I had,” Baker said.

Damas was deemed competent two weeks ago to stand trial on the six homicide charges. He is accused of killing his 32-year-old wife, Guerline, and the couple’s five children in 2009 at the family’s North Naples home.

During his extradition from Haiti, Damas confessed to a Daily News reporter that he was responsible for the killings. Damas’ attorneys filed a not guilty plea in the case.

Defendants are allowed to represent themselves, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled a judge can deny that right in cases of defendants “who still suffer from severe mental illness to the point where they are not competent to conduct trial proceedings by themselves.”

Damas’ mental health has been questioned since his arrest. He has been disruptive in court and frequently responds to questions by speaking about his religious beliefs.

Two of the three psychiatrists who evaluated Damas said the 35-year-old understands the homicide charges and is capable of helping his lawyers but chooses not to. A third psychiatrist said Damas suffers from a “delusional disorder” and isn’t competent to stand trial.

One of Damas’ public defenders, Kathleen Fitzgeorge, declined comment when asked Friday whether Damas has cooperated with his lawyers.

State Attorney Steve Russell also declined comment after Baker’s ruling.

No future hearing dates were set Friday and a trial date remains undecided.

© 2011 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 15

Car54 writes:

I'm sure his Lord & Savior is real busy with other things, so I think with the economy in the toilet, the State of Floriduh could same a lot of money by sending this Voodoo Dude to his maker for free. I'll donate the ammunition.

Spock_is_logical writes:

He needs Casey Anthony's scum lawyer..

northnaples61 writes:

Our wonderful justice system at work again, he knows he has no case, he admitted killing his family. Public defenders could save us all a lot of time and money, can't they just convince him to plead guilty or are they bound to provide him with a "defense"? Not familiar at all with criminal law. Any criminal experts out there?

Wrigley writes:

in response to Spock_is_logical:

He needs Casey Anthony's scum lawyer..

Do you mean Casey Anthony's genius lawyer?

northnaples61 writes:

in response to Wrigley:

Do you mean Casey Anthony's genius lawyer?

Which one are you referring to, the classy one that flipped off the media? Trashy people come from all walks of life, as Cheney has showed the world.

localsrock writes:

this guy killed his whole family..wheres all the media coverage? wheres nancy grace? and headline news and cnn and tru tv?

northnaples61 writes:

in response to localsrock:

this guy killed his whole family..wheres all the media coverage? wheres nancy grace? and headline news and cnn and tru tv?

He admitted killing his family, this isn't national news happens all the time all over the world. Nancy Grace bases her shows on solving crimes. I'm sure the local media will be there at the time of his trial. Rest of the world doesn't care, why would they?

joeblow writes:

Just let the dude go...we let Casey go...it don't matter anymore.

allidiots writes:

He is playing to the camera's. When he starts on his rants, he's looking right at them. Remove the camera's and I bet he stops.

localsrock writes:

in response to northnaples61:

He admitted killing his family, this isn't national news happens all the time all over the world. Nancy Grace bases her shows on solving crimes. I'm sure the local media will be there at the time of his trial. Rest of the world doesn't care, why would they?

wanna bet smart butt? let him go in the general population and see what happens

northnaples61 writes:

in response to localsrock:

wanna bet smart butt? let him go in the general population and see what happens

Okay, I'll bite, brainiac, but what would I be betting on? I don't see how my comment would warrant any type of a bet?

localsrock writes:

in response to northnaples61:

Okay, I'll bite, brainiac, but what would I be betting on? I don't see how my comment would warrant any type of a bet?

general population as in outside the jail..you wont be there..lets bet on how many people will be..he wouldnt even get out of the parking lot

LoveForMarx writes:

Give him a record deal. I can already see the next rap sensation "Rollin' wit' Jesus".

northnaples61 writes:

in response to localsrock:

general population as in outside the jail..you wont be there..lets bet on how many people will be..he wouldnt even get out of the parking lot

You are right I wouldnt sacrifice my life for him.

Hollywoody writes:

NNaples with IQ 61,

If I meant genius I would have written genus. Any scum lawyer could have gotten her off because all the state had was circumstantial evidence...genius.

bye

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