The suspect accused of stabbing another man to death in a Paso Robles laundromat sought to serve as his own lawyer in an arraignment held Thursday in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.
But Judge Michael Duffy denied the request and appointed a public defender to handle John Frederick Woody’s case, suggesting it would be difficult for him to handle the legal aspects of a case of such magnitude.
Woody, 28, is accused of murder in the stabbing death of 46-year-old Paso Robles man Martin McWilliams on Sunday night at a Paso Robles laundromat on the 2800 block of Spring Street. Police say the two men did not know each other.
After reviewing paperwork filled out by Woody on Thursday morning, Duffy decided that he had no legal experience but did have a substantial criminal record. The judge didn’t get into the details of Woody’s criminal history.
Woody also acknowledged to Duffy that he has been diagnosed with mental illness.
His appointed attorney, Ken Cirisan, expressed his doubts that Woody is mentally fit to stand trial and sought a medical opinion. Mental competency is based on whether a client can assist his lawyer in his own defense.
Two doctors will need to evaluate him and report their findings in Duffy’s court April 7.
Woody won’t enter a plea until his competency is determined.
The suspect — who according to court docket information is 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 240 pounds — appeared in Duffy’s court wearing a black-and-white striped jumpsuit that’s typically issued to defendants who pose a high security risk.
Woody continuously resisted the idea of being appointed a lawyer by saying that he had the “obligation and the responsibility” of handling the case himself.
But Duffy urged him to meet with Cirisan, whom he called “an excellent lawyer and a nice man.”
Duffy said he’d remain open to the option of allowing Woody to represent himself.
Cirisan and Woody spoke behind closed doors for several minutes. Afterward, Woody continued to say that he wanted to represent himself, but Duffy maintained Cirisan’s appointment as his attorney.
Woody remains in custody in County Jail without bail.