On trial for his life in the 2008 shooting death of Philadelphia Police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, defendant Eric DeShann Floyd angrily tried to fire his lawyers Monday, telling the judge he would rather be executed than represented by his current court-appointed legal team.
"The dude rubs me the wrong way. Hasn't anybody ever rubbed you the wrong way?" Floyd, 35, said to Common Pleas Court Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes, referring to lawyer William L. Bowe.
Hughes ultimately denied Floyd's request. But the loud 20-minute argument delayed the start of jury selection until almost 3 p.m.
Jury selection - a process expected to take the rest of the week because of the possibility of capital punishment - resumes today at the Criminal Justice Center.
By hearing's end, Floyd's complaints about Bowe and cocounsel Earl G. Kauffman remained unclear.
Hughes told Floyd that Bowe was one of the city's best death-penalty lawyers. She said she had monitored the defense team's work and was confident Floyd would get a fair trial.
But Floyd would hear none of it. He complained that Bowe was "deceiving him," had pressured him to plead guilty in return for a life prison term, and refused to call some witnesses to the May 3, 2008, bank robbery and car chase that ended with Liczbinski dead of multiple gunshots.
"Your lawyers have been trying to prevent [Assistant District Attorney Jude Conroy] from calling those witnesses," Hughes said. "They will bury you."
"I don't care, it's my life," Floyd said. "I have the right to represent myself, don't I?"
"You have the right to ask me to represent yourself, and I am denying that because you are being irrational," Hughes replied.
Hughes said she would not grant any trial delays: "We're way past that point."
Floyd's objections were not adopted by codefendant Levon T. Warner, who sat silently next to the irate Floyd.
Floyd, of North Philadelphia, and Warner, 41, of West Philadelphia, are accused of robbing a bank and leading police on a chase that ended in Port Richmond with the pursuing Liczbinski's death.
Howard Cain, 33, the alleged leader of the group who police say shot the 12-year-veteran officer, was killed by police after the three split up and he ran away.
But the District Attorney's Office will seek the death penalty if Floyd and Warner are convicted of first-degree murder. Conroy has argued that Cain's accomplices knew about or handled the high-power rifle used to shoot Liczbinski and so are equally culpable in his death.