OGDEN -- For the second time in two weeks, Jeremy Valdes has asked a judge to replace his public defenders or let him defend himself against two death penalty murder charges.
Valdes, 36, is charged with two counts of capital homicide in the Nov. 25, 2009, killings of Matthew Roddy, 30, and Roddy's mother, Pamela Jeffries, 56, in their Roy mobile home. Trial is set to begin Jan. 8.
As a Nov. 20 hearing on pre-trial motions concluded, Valdes suddenly spoke up, complaining to 2nd District Judge Mark DeCaria about his court-appointed lawyers, Gary Barr and Randall Marshall.
"I just essentially dread if I go forward with these guys ... They don't know me, how are they going to know my peers?" he told the judge, asking for replacements or to serve as his own lawyer.
The judge interrupted to say Barr and Marshall have effectively represented him. "They have your best interests at heart. I'm not going to boot them from the case."
Valdes' complaints come despite the fact Barr was able to have Valdes' purported confession to Roy police thrown out over Miranda flaws after a suppression hearing that took the better part of last year. Barr and Marshall recently filed 19 motions in the case, many dealing with trial details, as well as several challenging the constitutionality of the death penalty. DeCaria had said he will soon rule on all the motions, likely early next month.
But since Nov. 20, Valdes, his mother and his sister have written letters to DeCaria asking for new lawyers or for Valdes to be allowed to serve pro se -- to be his own attorney.
"How much worse could it get?" the sister, Nicole Valdes, asked in her letter. She accuses Valdes' defense team of not caring about her brother, saying "he deserves a chance to prove himself" as his own defense counsel.
Valdes and his mother both claim Barr and Marshall have medical problems that will prevent them from effectively running his trial.
They also both claim the lawyers have not done the research they said they would do in the case, to the point they both feel lied to.
In urging that her son be allowed to be his own lawyer, Marilee Valdes wrote, "Obviously Jeremy lacks the education necessary for one to practice law. He may not have the education, but he is very intelligent ... He has faith and determination. He has the desire for the truth to be heard and believe it or not, for justice to be served."
At a hearing Wednesday on jury questionnaires for the coming trial, DeCaria brought up the letters, discussing them with attorneys on both sides of the case. He also had Valdes given a Waiver of Counsel form to look over, which he would have to sign to show he fully understood the consequences of serving as his own lawyer.
DeCaria set a Tuesday hearing date for Valdes to make his case for dismissing Barr and Marshall. Barr and Marshall did not immediately return calls for comment.
Jeffries and Roddy were found dead in a closet in their Roy home Nov. 30, 2009, five days after they died. Valdes killed the two, according to the charges, after they reported to police that prescription drugs had been stolen from their home and that Valdes and his girlfriend, Miranda Statler, may have taken them.
Statler pleaded guilty to lesser charges as an accomplice and is serving a potential 20-year prison term. She is testifying against Valdes.