Murder defendant questions himself on witness stand - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Murder defendant questions himself on witness stand

James Calvert attends a court date. Cameras are not allowed in the courtroom. (Source: KLTV staff) James Calvert attends a court date. Cameras are not allowed in the courtroom. (Source: KLTV staff)
(Source: KLTV) (Source: KLTV)
James Calvert shuffles through paperwork. (Source: KLTV staff) James Calvert shuffles through paperwork. (Source: KLTV staff)

Accused murderer, James Calvert, appeared in Smith County court Wednesday for a pre-trial hearing on motions that he filed over the past few months.

Calvert is accused of killing his ex-wife and kidnapping their son in October of 2012. The Smith County district attorney, Matt Bingham, has said they intend to seek the death penalty in the case. Calvert is representing himself in court.

Calvert called himself as a witness on Wednesday to support his claim that the State had committed prosecutorial misconduct.

Judge Jack Skeen swore the pro se defendant in as a witness and Calvert took the witness stand.

"Judge, I was going to ask myself a question and then answer myself," Calvert told the court about how the dual role would work. "I could raise my hand when I am talking as an attorney."

In one of Calvert's many motions, he claims that the district attorney's office improperly obtained access to private items in his jail cell that included the inmate's legal preparation for trial. Calvert asserted in his motions that this access violated his constitutional right to a defense, because the State has allegedly viewed it before trial.

Calvert's jail cell was searched by a Smith County investigator pursuant to a warrant. The search warrant was issued in connection with charges that Calvert was illegally acting as an attorney for other inmates in jail. Calvert claimed that the documents seized contained the details of his defense. 

Bingham has stated to the court that no person in his office viewed any items seized from Calvert's jail cell by the investigator.

Calvert questioned himself as a witness with a monologue of back and forth questions and answers, until the State interjected.

"Objection, Your Honor. He's leading the witness." said Bingham.

"I'm sorry, it gets confusing." Calvert said.

Bingham appeared to have Calvert cornered after the defendant made the argument that the letters seized from his jail cell contained privileged trial strategy information.

Bingham cross examined Calvert and asked him if he talked about his trial strategies to his friends in the letters. When Calvert affirmed, Bingham declared that the defendant waived his right to privilege by sharing his strategies with others.

Calvert then claimed he did not recall the specifics of what was in the letters.  

The district attorney then reasoned, if the letters contained no strategy information, then it does not matter if the State viewed after seizure them or not.

The next pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Thursday.  Jury selection for trial remains on the court's calendar for April 23 with an anticipated jury trial date of June 6.

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