Capital murder defendant charged with contempt after court disruptions, taking exhibits

Published: Apr. 21, 2015 at 4:04 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 21, 2015 at 10:32 PM CDT
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James Calvert shuffles through paperwork. (Source: KLTV staff)
James Calvert shuffles through paperwork. (Source: KLTV staff)

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A Smith County judge has charged capital murder suspect James Calvert with direct contempt of court after a hearing Tuesday revealed the suspect hid court exhibits in his cell and lied to the court about their whereabouts.

Court began Tuesday morning with Smith County authorities

after Calvert took the stand without them.

Smith County Lieutenant John Shoemaker testified that Calvert's cell was searched after the capital murder suspect had numerous chances to go through and return the missing documents. Shoemaker told the court the items were found once jailers received a warrant to examine Calvert's cell for themselves; Calvert said it was an accident, and he did not know how the documents were placed in his files.

The state admitted the video of the April 17 search of Calvert's cell as evidence of where the exhibits were found. In the background of the video, the defendant can be heard saying "If they're [missing exhibits from court] in there, they're in there." A total of seven items were recovered.

Following a short break in the hearing, Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham asked the court to consider charging Calvert with contempt and possibly remove his ability to represent himself in the upcoming trial. Calvert responded with "I'm sorry", and said he had no malicious intent in taking the exhibits.

Smith County Judge Jack Skeen, Jr. sentenced Calvert to six months, the maximum, for direct contempt for taking the exhibits and his history of courtroom disruptions.

In June of 2014,

, saying they couldn't be trusted. Deputies escort an angry Calvert out of the courtroom, who shouted "Smith County justice, baby!"

by bailiffs for refusing to appear. And in March, Calvert announced


Calvert is accused of killing his ex-wife, Jelena Sriraman, and kidnapping their son in October of 2012. Bingham has said they intend to seek the death penalty in the case. Calvert is representing himself, and is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.

A motion for continuance filed by Calvert was denied on Tuesday. Jury selection for Calvert's capital murder trial is scheduled to begin on Thursday. Calvert argued for more pay for certain jurors, and asked for racial/age of jury to consistent with census figures, saying he didn't want a jury of "12 90-year-old ladies." Bingham pointed out that jury pay is set by statute, not by the court.

A final pretrial hearing will be held Wednesday afternoon at 1 p.m. Calvert's capital murder trial is set to begin on June 8.

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