A Florida man acting as his own attorney at his murder sentencing is pushing to get himself the death penalty.
While seeking a death sentence in court Monday, 39-year-old Craig Wall of Clearwater rejected efforts the efforts of The Florida Capital Resource Center, a group that provides resources for defendants in capital cases, to have an independent attorney appointed for him. Wall said he didn't want the help of "scumbag liberals" who think he can't make his own decisions, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
"The presentation of my case and my mitigation is my constitutional right," Wall said, according to Bay News 9. "This is my case. This is my life. All the choices are mine alone to make."
At a previous court appearance earlier this month, a judge asked if Wall was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. "I wish," he replied, according to ABC Action News.
Wall pleaded guilty February 13 to murdering girlfriend Laura Taft in 2010 and pleaded no contest to killing the couple's infant son, who died several days before Taft's murder. After the baby's death, Wall was jailed for violating a domestic violence injunction Taft had filed against him, but neither a recent 14-year stay in prison nor his status as a suspect in his son's death was mentioned in court. Three days after he was released on $1,000 bail, Taft was stabbed to death in her apartment.
"Yeah I killed her," Wall said in court. According to Tampa Bay's 10 News, the plea agreement was settled only after prosecutors promised to seek the death penalty.
Wall's case has had more than few strange turns: Despite seeking the death penalty for himself, Wall on Monday requested more time to assemble evidence. He's peppered his testimony with curse words and references to "rabid-dog liberals," according to the Tampa Tribune. And during a preparatory hearing in April of 2014, the Times reports, a judge asked if Wall understood the purpose of voir dire, the process of questioning and discarding jurors. Wall pointed to the jury box and said "Picking some idiots to sit over there."
Taft's parents told local CBS affiliate Action News that Wall is simply manipulating the legal system now and reject his testimony that he pleaded guilty to "spare them the heartache" of a trial.
"Craig is doing this for Craig," Rhonda Lyon-Buttita, Taft's mother, said earlier this month. "He's put us through pain for five years."
The Times notes that despite Wall's wish to represent himself, previously-appointed attorneys will be on hand as standby counsel. A doctor has declared Wall mentally fit to act as his own attorney.