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Lake Merritt BART murder suspect serves as his own lawyer in key hearing, with predictable results

OAKLAND — A 46-year-old Oklahoma native accused of killing a man outside the Lake Merritt BART station last August shocked everyone with a surprise announcement at the start of a key preliminary hearing .

Juan Andres Martinez announced at the start of his preliminary hearing Nov. 13 that he wanted to become his own lawyer in a case where he faces 27 years to life in prison if convicted. Although his education was limited to a high school diploma from Midwestern Oklahoma, Martinez assured Judge Rhonda Burgess that he had work experience in “finance, technology companies, television and film production.” which would help him navigate the complex legal world.

But by the end of the hearing, Martinez may have learned that some things are best left to the professionals.

“I don’t know if this is the point where I would argue that, yes, there was an altercation and I was threatened,” he began to say, before the assistant district attorney, Jake O’Malley, interrupts Martinez with an objection. .

“You haven’t submitted any evidence regarding your actions that day, so you can’t dispute that,” Burgess said, then waited to see if Martinez would give her a reason why she shouldn’t pursue the charge of murder. That day.

“Okay. So no,” Martinez responded, letting his accusations stand without argument.

Every defendant has an absolute right to self-representation, even if few choose to use it. Those who do so are often warned that they will most likely lose their case and will not receive any special treatment due to their ignorance of the legal system. As is typical for these scenarios, Burgess questioned Martinez to ensure he was “fully aware of the danger” of being his own attorney before the hearing began.

During the preliminary hearing, prosecutors presented evidence implicating Martinez in the Aug. 8 shooting that killed Kvaughn Miller, but no clear explanation of motive.

An eyewitness said Miller was yelling at Martinez, calling him a “thug,” before the shooting. But that same witness also said he suffered from “mental illness,” insisted the shooting happened only a few weeks ago, and went off on unclear tangents. For example, he said, “I tried to stop him from doing what happened because, you know, I can see the SOS or the signal or something, you know.” »

BART police investigators said evidence, including video surveillance, established that Martinez shot Miller shortly before 3 p.m. that day and that after the shooting, Martinez fled on a scooter. When police caught up with him and arrested him, he reportedly said, “I’m that guy” and “someone tried to rob me today.”

During cross-examination by BART police Detective Michael Polcar, Martinez referred to himself in the third person as “the accused” when asking Polcar what the video evidence showed.

“You were standing in front of him, he hit your scooter, facing you, and that’s when you shot him and he fell,” Polcar responded. “That’s what I was thinking while watching the video.”

After being booked into jail, Martinez called his then-girlfriend to ask her to look for a “Second Amendment attorney” to hire, and he reiterated his claim of self-defense, according to police testimony.

Martinez remains in jail without bail, with his next court date set for February, according to court records. A trial date has not yet been set.

California Daily Newspapers

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