Judges have broad discretion when it comes to allowing defendants to represent themselves. In a recent case, a judge denied a pro se petition by Dwight Doty to represent himself in the slaying of a 9-year-old boy whose father was a member of a rival gang. But another recent case outlines the perils of getting what you wish for.
Jovan Battle, a homeless man who was accused of murdering an off-duty police officer was convicted after a jury determined he was culpable for the death of an officer and the wounding of his friend. While the case would have likely resulted in a conviction of some kind, it did not have to result in a first-degree murder conviction and several armed battery counts for which Battle will spend the rest of his life in prison. In fact, Battle never pulled the trigger or opened fire on anyone.
According to prosecutors, Battle mistook the police officer for some another person with whom he had had a fight earlier that night. He directed one of the two other men he was with that night to their car and that man opened fire, killing the officers and injuring his friend. Of course, none of that should have been disclosed to police during the interrogation, and yet all of it was, so it formed the basis of their first-degree murder charge against Battle.