Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In Hillsborough court, murder suspect Khalid Pasha gets wish to defend himself

TAMPA — Khalid Pasha sat at his defense table Thursday, listening as the prosecutors who wanted him put to death cataloged the evidence against him:

DNA. Witnesses. The blood of two dead women found on his face and hair.

The stakes are so high in cases like this that lawyers must have years of experience and special training to become officially qualified to defend the accused.

But the 69-year-old defendant trusted no one but himself.

He'd spent years filing handwritten motions, accusing the state of evidence tampering and a judge of racial prejudice.

Finally, he had a stage. As Pasha approached the jury, no one stopped him. He had a right to defend himself, even if legal experts would warn it was a horrendous, potentially lethal idea.

He gave an opening statement that offered no alibi, no alternative suspects, no explanation for the state's evidence.

Just an ambitious proposition:

"I will prove to you," he said, "that this case is made up of half truths and lies. …

"I might make a mistake because I'm not an attorney. …

"But I will do the best I can."

• • •

It has been 11 years since deputies found Pasha leaving the Woodland Corporate Center on Waters Avenue, his 43-year-old wife, Robin Canady, and her 20-year-old daughter, Ranesha Singleton, dead nearby, their throats slit, their blood on a hazmat suit in the van he was driving.

His defense attorney was ready for his first-degree murder trial in 2007, but a week before, Pasha asked for a new lawyer.

Pasha had represented himself on and off, and said he and his attorney disagreed on strategy.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge William Fuente found that the lawyer was doing an adequate job and denied Pasha's request.

He also denied Pasha's request to represent himself, ruling that Pasha had expressed a preference to have the help of a lawyer, just not the one he got.

Pasha was convicted and sentenced to death.

But in 2010, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Pasha should've been allowed to represent himself.

So for almost three years, Pasha has continued to mount his defense, trying to suppress evidence, penning motions with titles like "The Historical Odyssey Regarding Events of Petitioner Since His Return To This Court."

• • •

After opening statements Thursday, Pasha demanded to examine every piece of evidence presented to the jury.

Two attorneys sat by in case he needed them. But he led his own defense.

He inspected an envelope containing swabs and felt through the paper with his thumbs.

He stared at a crime scene diagram, asking, "What is this supposed to be?"

He asked questions the state's first witness did not understand, which led to objections and bench conferences, jurors shifting in their seats and staring at the clock.

12:11 p.m.

12:20 p.m.

The judge gave them a break, but Pasha and the prosecutors remained in the courtroom, to deal with motions the defendant had filed, rehashing previously denied requests and making new ones Circuit Judge Kimberly Fernandez did not understand.

"Slavery?" she asked as she read. "I think it's been abolished already. I don't understand what you're asking me to do."

"Your honor, this is a really touchy subject," he replied, his request still unclear.

The prosecutor suggested Pasha did not want to be called by his "original English name" but instead by his legal name, Khalid A. Pasha.

The judge agreed that was fine; no one knew his "English name."

Court adjourned for lunch.

Pasha returned upset. He accused the judge of laughing while she read his motion. She explained she had not. He said he didn't feel like continuing.

But the trial went on.

Times photojournalist Edmund D. Fountain contributed to this report. Alexandra Zayas can be reached at or (813) 226-3354.

In Hillsborough court, murder suspect Khalid Pasha gets wish to defend himself 01/17/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 12:02am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  2. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter


    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle
  3. Death toll, humanitarian crisis grow in Puerto Rico


    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A humanitarian crisis grew Saturday in Puerto Rico as towns were left without fresh water, fuel, power or phone service following Hurricane Maria's devastating passage across the island.

    Crew members assess electrical lines in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on Friday in Puerto Rico. Mobile communications systems are being flown in but “it’s going to take a while.”
  4. N. Korea says strike against U.S. mainland is 'inevitable'


    North Korea's foreign minister warned Saturday that a strike against the U.S. mainland is "inevitable" because President Donald Trump mocked leader Kim Jong Un with the belittling nickname "little rocketman."

  5. All-eyes photo gallery: Florida State Seminoles loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack


    View a gallery of images from the Florida State Seminoles 27-21 loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack Saturday in Tallahassee. The Seminoles will face Wake Forest on Saturday, Sept. 30 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

    Florida State Seminoles fans sing the fight song during the Florida State Seminoles game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on September 23, 2017, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  At the half, North Carolina State Wolfpack 17, Florida State Seminoles 10.