|Updated: 7/09/2009 9:07 pm
||Published: 7/08/2009 6:23 pm
The man charged in the murder of anchorwoman Anne Pressly is fit to stand trial. A Pulaski county judge says Curtis Vance is able to participate in his own defense.
But as FOX16 News first reported, he may want to do more than participate. He may want to do it all. Vance filed about a handwritten motion Vance Wednesday where he says his defense team is hurting his case and you get the sense he may want to represent himself. Either way, the judge says he's fit to stand trial.
Goins says: "Curtis, do you plan to represent yourself in this case?"
Looking like he was about to answer, he remained quiet on his way into the courtroom. Inside his attorneys argued Vance may not be fit to stand trial. Dr Shawn Agharkar, a Georgia based forensic psychiatrist said in his 2 ½ hour interaction with Vance at the Pulaski County jail it was clear he understood the charges against him and could assist his defense team.
Those are the only requirements that have to be met in order to stand trial.
But Agharkar also testified Vance may need more tests because in his March 27 interview, his answers “exhibited a paranoid flavor were not rational.”
His mom, Jacqueline Vance watching in the courtroom, revealed more about the defendant's past, telling the defense expert she's abused all her kids, including Curtis.
"I can say I’m a recovering addict,” his mother said. “I was on crack."
She says when Vance was five years old, she slammed his head against a brick wall until he passed out. With no medical records to back up the claim, Pulaski County deputy prosecutor John Johnson countered Vance's mom may be lying to help her son's defense.
"No it's not, I didn't make anything up," she said. Goins says: "So you actually have abused Curtis as a child?" Jacqueline Vance says: "Yes I have."
Defense attorney Katherine Streett argued because there is no report from the state hospital that says Vance is fit to stand trial, then he should be observed in a hospital for 30 days.
“Where is the harm in assuring we have enough data to determine whether he’s fit to proceed?” she asked circuit judge Chris Piazza.
Piazza responded, saying the murder case won't be held up by a defendant who doesn't want to cooperate and that there is no guarantee that he would do so in the context of hospitalization.
“As much as the defendant has a right to a fair trial, you have to have a right to a fair trial for the state too,” Piazza said. “It’s ludicrous to pause a proceeding because a defendant won’t cooperate. There is substantial evidence that he’s fit to proceed.”
His attorneys have repeatedly asked him not to talk to reporters. He took that advice on Thursday, not answering questions as he left the courtroom.
At his next hearing on July 28, his attorneys will try to get his murder trial delayed citing the need to test state DNA and hair sample evidence. Attorneys will take up the handwritten motion Vance filed asking for new representation. His trial is set for September 9th.
Prosecutors have not decided whether to seek the death penalty.
Suspect in Pressly murder files own motion
The man charged with killing anchorwoman Anne Pressly filed his own court motion and asked for new attorneys.
In the handwritten motion filed Wednesday, Curtis Vance, 28, asks the court to release DNA and forensic evidence as well as medical records against him. The six page motion cites court cases as legal precedent while repeatedly emphasizing his desire to change his attorneys.
In the notification portion, Vance also accuses his public defenders of intentionally trying to harm his defense.
“As it is known by record within the Court from the defandant’s most recent court appearances before the Court, not only has the Court disregarded the clearly established rights to the assistance of guaranteed ‘effective assistance’ of counsel, (Strickland v. Washington) supra, wherein which the defendant is being FORCED to have appointed “public defenders?” who intentionally, conspiratorally, harmfully cause Curtis Vance to have NO DEFENSE AT ALL… the defendant, who has been deteriorated within his a fighting chance at serious accusations, these “public defenders?” have caused Curtis L. Vance to receive no defense.”
The only mention of the attack against Pressly comes in a footnote on the motion where Vance writes:
“It must be noted here that there were not one but two (2) other individuals who were ARRESTED and then taken into custody about this case. Guys were SEEN on video tape at the Shell Superstop on East 9th street in Pressly’s car, used Pressly’s credit cards, etc. Yet this information was known but withheld by Vance’s own legal defense team, from Vance, who found it out by means of other sources, who knew about it.”
Court and police affidavits, however, indicate only Vance was arrested in connection with Pressly’s murder. There are also no police records that substantiate Vance’s claim that the morning anchorwoman’s vehicle was ever moved from the driveway of her Club Road home in the Heights.
Vance is accused of capital murder, rape, residential burglary and theft for the murder of Pressly last October. Prosecutors maintain DNA links Vance to the killing. In a June court appearance prosecutors also asserted Vance has confessed to the crime at least three different times during questioning since his November arrest.
He will appear in Pulaski County Circuit Court Thursday morning for a hearing regarding whether he is mentally fit to stand trial.