NAPLES — Facing the death penalty on charges that he killed his wife and five children, Mesac Damas told a judge Friday that he doesn’t need lawyers and wants to represent himself.
“It’s me and the Lord,” Damas told Collier Circuit Judge Frank Baker. “That’s it. No one else.”
The request was part of a rambling pronouncement on Jesus, salvation and the Bible that interrupted a 30-minute status hearing in a case that has been slowed by questions about whether Damas is competent to participate in his own defense.
Baker said Friday he would appoint a third expert to evaluate Damas’ competency and set another hearing tentatively for Feb. 4.
Fort Myers psychologist Robert Silver conducted the first evaluation, and Assistant State Attorney Richard Montecalvo requested a second one.
Gainesville psychologist Michael Herkov, who conducted the second exam, delivered an opinion on Damas’ competency this week that differed from the first one, Montecalvo told Baker.
On Friday, Assistant Public Defender Neil McLoughlin asked Baker to appoint a third expert, saying it would avoid second guessing 10 to 15 years down the road about why a third opinion was not sought.
Outside the courtroom later, McLoughlin said it was important to “do everything 110 percent” in death penalty cases.
“He (Baker) doesn’t want to play games and we don’t either,” McLoughlin said.
Damas, 34, is charged with six counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of his wife, Guerline, 32, and five children: Meshach “Zack” Damas, 9; Maven, 6; Marven, 5; Megan, 3; and Morgan, 19 months.
Their bodies were found with their throats cut inside the family’s North Naples home in September 2009.
On Friday, Damas sat with his attorneys at a table in the front of the courtroom, which was crowded with people waiting for their cases to be called.
He sat silently with his hands folded in his lap until about the middle of the proceeding, when he addressed Baker as “Mr. Judge” and asked that he be allowed to represent himself.
“God is my lawyer,” Damas said, referring to Baker as “my brother.”
Gesturing with his cuffed hands, Damas went on to talk about a new world coming and to cite the correct Bible chapter and verse that warns against judging others to avoid being judged.
He thanked his attorneys for representing him and said they were doing a good job but told them “it’s not up to you right now.”
“It’s up to me and the Lord,” Damas said.
As Baker explained to Damas that he would take up his request at a later hearing, Damas turned toward news cameras and urged people waiting in the courtroom to find a good church and to give their lives to Jesus.
Baker got Damas’ attention back, telling Damas that he needed to explain how the case would proceed.
“It’s your room, do whatever you want,” Damas said to Baker.
Damas went silent again, closing his eyes and bowing his head, only to turn again toward the courtroom to continue preaching as Baker and attorneys talked about the next hearing date.
Turning back toward Baker, Damas said he didn’t see a ring on Baker’s finger and questioned whether he had found Jesus.
“Make sure you have Jesus in your life, my brother,” Damas told Baker.
Baker ended the hearing, but Damas wasn’t done sermonizing.
“God bless you all, my brothers,” Damas said as he stood to leave the courtroom.
He shuffled out the door and back to jail, talking about the second coming of the Lord and church.
Connect with Eric Staats at www.naplesnews.com/staff/eric_staats
DAMAS FAMILY KILLINGS COVERAGE
ONE YEAR LATER:
- Year after slayings of Guerline Damas, five kids, relatives ask ‘did it really, really happen?’
- Confessed killer Mesac Damas wants to die, so should court system let him?
- Damas family slayings: Year later, still haunting lives of friends, family, deputies
- Jail phone call: Accused killer Mesac Damas talks to father about his slain family, Satan and adultery
MESAC DAMAS CONFESSION VIDEO:
DAILY NEWS STAFF JOURNALISTS TALK ABOUT THE CASE:
- THE FIELD: Naples Daily News staff writer describes how he obtained an interview with Mesac Damas
- THE FIELD: Visual Journalist Greg Kahn discusses being the first journalist at the Damas crime scene, and other observations from the field.
- THE FIELD: Staff Writer Steven Beardsley answers questions about his interview with Mesac Damas