NAPLES — Accused killer Mesac Damas repeated his request to represent himself in his death penalty case, this time during a brief hearing on Tuesday.
The hearing, set last week by Collier Circuit Judge Franklin Baker, concerned the appointment of a third psychiatrist to evaluate Damas and the protocol for coordinating with the expert before the examination.
Baker, pushing for more progress in the case, intended to send the results of Damas’ two prior examinations directly to the third doctor, Dr. Frederick Schaerf, when he received an e-mail from Damas’ attorneys opposing the move.
Deputy Public Defender Kathleen Fitzgeorge told Baker that she would prefer such decisions be made by the attorneys.
“At this stage I think it would be on behalf of the state and defense to provide Dr. Schaerf with whatever necessary documents he would need in regards to discovery, any documents that he requested,” Fitzgeorge said.
Baker agreed to allow both sides to determine what materials to send to Schaerf, so long as they made a decision on Tuesday.
The judge told Damas he was aware of the defendant’s standing request to represent himself, but that he could make no decision during the hearing. In a rambling response that often invoked religion, Damas repeatedly said he’d like to represent himself.
“No disrespect, you know what I’m saying, but I’d appreciate it if next time the judge would address that,” he told Baker.
Damas, 34, faces the death penalty on six counts of first-degree murder for the slayings of his five children and their mother, Damas’ wife, Guerline Damas, 32, at their North Naples home in September 2009.
The case is moving gradually toward a hearing that would decide Damas’ competence to stand trial. Two previous evaluations have reached separate conclusions about the defendant’s competence, setting the way for a third evaluation, the maximum number permitted by law.
Damas’ mental health has been questioned from the beginning of the case. He has lost considerable weight since his arrest, and he is often disruptive during hearings. His attorneys have said they will not begin witness depositions in the case until Damas participates.
Baker has expressed frustration with the slow pace of the case. Tuesday, the judge said he chose Schaerf in part because the doctor was available the next two weeks, before the next hearing in the case.
“Because we are sort of, as I mentioned before, jumping up and down and landing in the same spot without moving forward,” he said.
The next status hearing is set for Feb. 4.
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