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Article updated: 12/20/2012 3:57 PM

Man facing murder charge wants to represent himself in trial

Zervont S. Thomas

Zervont S. Thomas

 
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A Waukegan man facing 60 years in prison in a murder case was warned by a Lake County judge that it would not be in his best interests to represent himself in his upcoming trial.

Lake County Judge John Phillips told Zervont Thomas, now 20, that he will give Thomas a week to think about the decision to represent himself in his August 2011 case.

During a Thursday hearing, Thomas, who holds a high school diploma, told Phillips his court-appointed defense attorney was not listening to him when it comes to crafting a defense, and felt he would be best represented in court if he acted as his own attorney.

"He doesn't tell me nothing," Thomas explained to Phillips. "I asked Mr. Murphy to file this or do that and he tells me he knows better and he has more experience. But he doesn't have to do the time. I do."

However, Phillips explained that Thomas' lawyer -- John E. Murphy of Waukegan -- is an outstanding defense attorney, who has defended numerous people in murder trials, and actually knows the law best.

"The odds are that you are going to mess this up," Phillips explained. "I want you to think long and hard about it. You are making a very risky, a very unwise decision if you decide to do this."

Thomas remains in jail on $5 million bond after being accused of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and armed violence. Police say Thomas stabbed the driver and front seat passenger of a Jeep as the three traveled along Grand Avenue in Gurnee in August 2011.

Stefan A. Metel, 33, of Round Lake Beach, was pronounced dead shortly after the stabbing in front of the Anthony Buick GMC dealership, while a 17-year-old victim escaped the car and was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.

Metel officially died inside the dealership, authorities said at the time.

Thomas and prosecutors will appear before Phillips on Dec. 28 when a final decision will be made as to whether he will represent himself.

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