Judge Russell Canan ordered a mental health screening Wednesday to determine whether Herbert Hayes, who Canan suspects has threatened a series of attorneys, is competent to proceed to trial.
Hayes, 40, is suspected of fatally stabbing 41-year-old John Wesley Griffen in May of last year.
Hayes was arrested three days after Griffen’s death and has requested new counsel three times.
In a letter sent to Chief Judge Lee Satterfield, Hayes says that his current attorney, Betty Ballester, violated his Fourth Amendment right, and that he is “dealing with lawyers that are working with the prosecutor in the case.”
Ballester said that Hayes had physically threatened her.
Based on Ballester’s statement, Canan removed her from the case and ordered the mental health examination.
Canan said that he wants to rule out the possibility that Hayes may have issues with paranoia which cause him to believe his attorneys are working against him.
Hayes objected to the notion that he is unfit to stand trial.
“I don’t need no evaluation; I’m very competent,” Hayes said. “I know my rights. You can’t dictate to me what lawyer is going to represent me.”
Canan warned Hayes that this is the last time he will be granted new counsel.
“If you threaten another lawyer, you are not entitled to a new one,” Canan told Hayes. “Stick with your lawyer or represent yourself,” Canan said.
The mental health evaluation is scheduled for May 10. The trial is scheduled to begin June 10.