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Wednesday, September 03, 2014, 3:08 a.m.
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Murder trial delayed as Dennis seeks again to represent himself

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was published April 10, 2014 at 10:19 a.m.

darrell-dennis-is-escorted-from-pulaski-county-circuit-court-after-a-hearing-thursday

Darrell Dennis is escorted from Pulaski County Circuit Court after a hearing Thursday.

The capital-murder trial of eight-time parole absconder Darrell Dennis has been delayed again after Dennis reiterated a request to represent himself in the proceeding.

Dennis, who is also charged with kidnapping and aggravated robbery in the May 10 death of 18-year-old Forrest Abrams, said in court Thursday that he wanted his court-appointed attorney, Bill James, off his case and to handle his defense himself.

Dennis was arrested less than 30 hours after his release from the Pulaski County jail, where he had been held on an absconder warrant. A June 17, 2013, article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette revealed the lengthy parole-violation history of Dennis before his arrest, sparking a systemwide review of the state parole system that in turn led to a change in leadership and numerous policy shifts.

On Thursday, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza started to warn Dennis that the Arkansas Supreme Court has reversed him in earlier cases where he allowed a defendant to represent himself, telling Dennis there were very serious issues involved.

"I don't think you're capable of handling that yourself," Piazza told him.

But Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Johnson then asked the court to order a mental evaluation for Dennis, noting there is an unrelated, pending case in which a conviction may be tossed because a judge didn't go through the necessary procedures before declining a defendant's request to represent himself.

Piazza ultimately ordered the mental evaluation, which necessitated moving Dennis' trial from later this month to Sept. 22.

Dennis — who at one point during the brief hearing tried to introduce a photocopied surveillance image he said proved he didn't commit the murder — complained the mental, or Act III, evaluation was an effort to "sandbag" the case.

"There is nothing wrong with me," he said. "I have had several Act IIIs already. I am good to go."

Dennis was also critical during the hearing of James, who he accused of working with prosecutors and not acting in his interest. James was appointed after Dennis in December asked his first appointed attorneys thrown off the case, a request Piazza granted while warning it was a mistake.

"I need attorneys who represent me," Dennis said, prompting Piazza to note James is a "very capable attorney."

"He probably is when he wants to be," Dennis replied.

James was ultimately kept on the case pending the result of the mental evaluation, which will be used to determine if Dennis can represent himself.

Comments on: Murder trial delayed as Dennis seeks again to represent himself

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Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 total comments

WowReally says... April 10, 2014 at 11:44 a.m.

Just save the taxpayers money and the courts time by taking this dirtbag and getting rid of him. Make him swim down to the missing Malaysian airliners position without a pressure suit or anything. He is obviously incapable of behaving himself and acting like a civilized person. He is obviously unable to obey the laws and rules that we have set forth for society as a whole. He does not deserve to be allowed to remain here and cause more problems. Just get rid of his sorry butt and be done with it!

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TheBatt says... April 10, 2014 at 12:07 p.m.

Sigh... If the state causes undue delay, a defendant can eventually get off. But a defendant who plays games can seemingly put off justice forever.

And it is particularly frustrating when it's being perpetrated by someone with a long criminal record who knows his guilt and the state's evidence WILL convict him.

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Grannycares says... April 10, 2014 at 12:39 p.m.

It has to be a ploy. He has the best criminal defense attorney in the State of Arkansas!

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HalALouyah says... April 10, 2014 at 1:54 p.m.

A shank incident would save us taxpayers a lot of money

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rbb72802 says... April 10, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.

I agree Jesse, maybe someone will shank him in jail, and rid this earth of this scumbag. Do him like he did the young innocent man he killed for enjoyment, put him on his knees and put a bullet in the back of his head.

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teachercop says... April 10, 2014 at 7:27 p.m.

A. He does indeed have a very good defense attorney in Mr. James. B. He is not going anywhere until the 2040's due to other convictions. Try him in September. Then give him life without parole.

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HM2 says... April 10, 2014 at 7:28 p.m.

I say let the thug fool represent himself, with the understanding that regardless of the results there will be no appeal. A one shot affair. What do you want to bet he'll change his mind?

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