Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco man accused of stabbing will defend himself in court — again

DADE CITY — Roger John Beckers wasn't happy with his attorney.

"He didn't file some motions I wanted him to file," Beckers said in court Tuesday as assistant public defender David Moran sat by his side.

Beckers wanted permission to act as his own attorney, even though he faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree attempted murder in the stabbing of a 20-year-old girlfriend last year. Beckers also stabbed himself in the fracas.

Circuit Judge Susan Gardner looked over the files in the case and decided Moran had done everything expected of him in Beckers' case.

"I find him to be effective," she said.

Beckers said he wanted Moran out anyway.

Gardner wanted to make sure Beckers understood what was in store if he went pro se, a Latin term that means "for oneself" or "on one's own behalf." Law is a speciality that requires training and experience, she explained. By representing himself, Beckers, a former Home Depot salesman, won't get that benefit.

"You realize that you won't get any special treatment because you are representing yourself," she said, regarding Beckers' access to the law library at the county jail.

She also let Beckers know that he would face some obstacles. For example, as an inmate, he won't get face time with prosecutors as a public defender or private attorney would. Everything would have to be submitted in writing.

Gardner also told Beckers he would not win an appeal if he tries to argue that he was his own ineffective counsel, because he has properly been questioned and knows what he's getting himself into.

Still, Beckers was undeterred. However, he agreed with Gardner's decision to appoint someone from the Office of Regional Counsel as backup in case Beckers decides he can't follow through. That office typically represents clients when public defenders have a conflict.

Gardner asked Beckers, whose criminal record includes being extradited from South Carolina on a fugitive warrant as well as several traffic cases, if he had ever represented himself in court.

"Yes, ma'am," he said.

"And what was the outcome?"

"I was found guilty," he said.

Going it alone

Legal experts don't find that surprising.

Charles Rose, a professor at Stetson University College of Law, told the Times in January that "It's like trying to dance with somebody who doesn't know how to dance, or trying to play a game with someone who doesn't know the rules."

Last year, the American Bar Association surveyed about 1,000 state trial judges about self-representation in civil matters. Most said people made procedural errors and failed to present necessary evidence, properly object, effectively examine witnesses and craft good arguments. They said people hurt their defenses when they go pro se.

Defendants have a right to act as their own lawyers. This past summer, the Supreme Court of Florida reversed first-degree murder convictions and vacated death sentences for Khalid Pasha, who wanted to defend himself at trial, but wasn't allowed. He will get another trial in the 2002 deaths of his wife and step-daughter in Tampa.

In 2004, a Pinellas man also facing a hefty sentence insisted on representing himself in a murder trial. His standby lawyer thought Emory Carter had a decidedly defendable case.

But Carter rambled during closing statements, missed key points and cursed the judge.

He will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report, which includes information from Times files.

Pasco man accused of stabbing will defend himself in court — again 10/26/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 8:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Restaurant review: Mortar & Pestle in Seminole Heights should focus on mom-and-pop pharmacy vibe

    Food & Dining

    By Laura Reiley

    Times Food Critic

    TAMPA

    Sometimes, the more time you have with a project, the more complicated it gets. I started hearing about Mortar & Pestle in Seminole Heights about 18 months ago. It was the vision of Ujwal Patel, a pharmacist;

    Mortar & Pestle opened in Seminole Heights in Tampa in August. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  2. Snap Judgment's Glynn Washington on growing up in a 'cult' and how to tell a good story

    Events

    Glynn Washington spent much of his last visit to Tampa preparing his soul for the impending apocalypse. He was assured it was coming any day.

    Glynn Washington, the creator and host of NPR's "Snap Judgment," will bring his live show to the Tampa Theatre on Sept. 29. 
Photo courtesy Snap Judgment
  3. Anthony Weiner sentenced to 21 months in sexting case

    National

    NEW YORK — Former Rep. Anthony Weiner was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison for sexting with a 15-year-old girl in a case that rocked Hillary Clinton's campaign for the White House in the closing days of the race and may have cost her the presidency.

    Former Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) arrives at federal court for his sentencing hearing in a sexting scandal, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in New York. [Associated Press]
  4. Kiran and Pallavi Patel commit $200 million for Clearwater medical school

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Tampa Bay philanthropists Dr. Kiran Patel and his wife, Dr. Pallavi Patel are spending $200 million to create and promote a Tampa Bay regional campus for the private Nova Southeastern University.

    Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel, prolific Tampa Bay philanthropists, are putting up $200 million to create and run a new medical school under Nova Southeastern University. Here is a rendering of the proposed campus [Courtesy of Southestern Noval University}
  5. Lightning to retire Vinny Lecavalier's No. 4 in February

    Blogs

    When Marty St. Louis became the first Lightning player to have his jersey retired back in January, it was hard not to think that former captain Vinny Lecavalier would be the next one.

    Vinny Lecavalier takes the ice before a 2010 game against the Florida Panthers.