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Accused O’Laughlin Killer Will Represent Self in Court

John L. Wilson, who is charged with the 2011 child murder in Indian Head Park, has been granted a motion of pro se with only stand-by counsel.

The man accused in the October 2011 murder of 14-year-old Kelli O’Laughlin in her Indian Head Park home has been granted the right to serve as his own lawyer as the case proceeds toward a likely trial.

John L. Wilson was granted a pro se motion on Dec. 19 by presiding judge John Hynes. A public defender has been appointed as stand-by counsel.

Defendants have the right to represent themselves even against their own self-interest, said Pat Reardon, first assistant public defender for Cook County, and no one can stop them from exercising that right. But lawyers tend to think it’s a bad call.

“Frankly, from the view of the public defender, it’s a nightmare,” Reardon said. “There’s an old saying that a person who has himself for a lawyer has a fool for a client. … [Stand-by counsel] is a very difficult role, and one that our lawyers don’t usually like to assume.”

Stand-by attorneys may only advise their clients on procedural matters—when to stand, sit, speak, etc.—and may not give advice, or draft or file motions, explained Reardon. “We’re supposed to sit there quietly. … It’s an awkward position for a lawyer.”

Judge Hynes had previously told Wilson that, “I strongly urge you to accept the appointment of a public defender.” 

The case is still in the pre-trial phase; the next hearing is on Feb. 6. The Public Defender’s Office said that several motions Wilson filed will be discussed, including one asking the state to release to him discovery typically disclosed only to an attorney, and another to remove the manacles from his wrists in the courtroom.

Wilson fired pro bono attorneys John P. Carroll and Michelle Gonzalez in May and filed his pro se motion. He later accepted the services of Cook County Public Defender David McMahon, who can no longer advise him due to the motion being granted.

"It's insane for a person not to have an attorney," Carroll told Patch in May. "That's like asking me to rebuild my own car engine."

According to Cook mental-health evaluator Dr. Peter Lourgos, Wilson’s erratic behavior—including answering “no” to nearly all questions in court, refusing exams and at one point shoving feces under a door—constitutes “a blatant attempt to provide inaccurate information and are clearly manipulative.”

"Mr. Wilson currently is not suffering from mental illness that would compromise his understanding of court procedure or his assistance in his own defense,” added fellow evaluator Dr. Susan Messina.

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Redmond OnArcher January 31, 2013 at 09:31 PM
I'm not exactly sure true justice could ever be "served". True justice for all would be the death penalty so that this scum does not have to be cared for via taxpayers expense. You willingly take a life....you should be willing to face the consequences.
Redmond OnArcher January 31, 2013 at 09:34 PM
The killer should be put to death the same way he "executed" his victim. Why is it that society is so driven to have mercy on the merciless?
Redmond OnArcher January 31, 2013 at 09:49 PM
Mr. McRoy...my point is that that no perp in a criminal trial ie., rapist, pedophliac, murderer, home invader etc., should be ALLOWED to defend himself. This is not fair not only on the emotional level, it is not "fair" to taxpayers who will pay for the waisted hours of court time with him representing himself. You can be assured that this monster does not have the slightest clue as to criminal defense acumen and will only extend the length of time spent trying this case. Actually, I cannot believe that the criminal justice system would deem this acceptable. As I said before, the average person in a civil court proceeding is not allowed to defend himself and is FORCED, by law to hire an attorney. That's fair?
Darren McRoy February 01, 2013 at 08:33 PM
I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about. People have the right to pro se representation at any level of a court proceeding. Here is some information about self-representation trends: http://www.ncsconline.org/wc/publications/memos/prosestatsmemo.htm#stateappellate . As you can see, they are quite high for civil cases. In New Hampshire, apparently, 85% of civil cases at one level were heard with at least one pro se party. Whether it's right or not is up to debate, but it is very much legal for any person to represent themselves pro se in any case.
Darren McRoy February 01, 2013 at 08:41 PM
The Judiciary Act of 1789, signed by President George Washington: "SEC. 35. And be it further enacted, That in ALL courts of the United States, the parties may plead and manage their own causes personally." http://www.constitution.org/uslaw/judiciary_1789.htm

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