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Man claims he doesn't know why he's in court

A young man in Wichita displayed some bizarre behavior while appearing in court for the first time to hear the charges levied at him several days ago. Typically, the first appearance is a fairly straightforward experience — the defendant is presented with a video conference with a judge who reads the charges, offers him or her an opportunity to ask any questions, and then he or she moves on so that the next accused person can do roughly the exact same thing. This appearance, however, took an unexpected turn.

Upon being brought to the video conference, the defendant interrupted the judge reading the charges, asking why he was there, expressing confusion not only as to why he was being charged, but to where he was at all. According to the man, he had consumed some methamphetamine, blacked out and suddenly come to while in the courtroom with no awareness of what had transpired in the interim. When informed that he was being charged with cocaine and weapon possession by a convicted felon and first-degree murder for a shooting death in a restaurant, the man contested that he was a peaceful person who had never owned weapon.

While it is a matter of record that the man had applied to be supplied a defense attorney, it is unlikely that this behavior was done with encouragement of any attorney currently practicing in the state of Kansas. It is unclear whether the man was indeed under the influence during the hearing, but records indicate that it was not his first experience with the criminal justice system, having been faced several other charges previously, including a conviction for felony theft of firearms.

Regardless of how exactly the young man came to be in the courtroom that morning facing charges, it serves to illustrate that circumstances often take an ugly turn that no one wants them to take. Even if you are the kind of person who believes he or she will never need a criminal defense lawyer, it is wise to establish a relationship with one before you need it. This way, you know exactly who to call if life takes a turn you do not expect and can ensure that your rights are protected.

Source: Wichita Eagle, "Man charged with murder in restaurant shooting doesn’t know ‘why I’m here’," Tim Potter, Nov. 17, 2016

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