Sunday, October 09, 2005


Neelesh Phadnis acted as his own attorney during his trial last week in King County, Wash. Never mind the old adage about the fool being his own lawyer; Phadnis took foolishness to an unheard-of level in superior court.

He claimed that several 400-pound Samoans killed his parents because they thought he had tried to torch one of their houses. He tried to block a photo of a gun from being entered into evidence because, as he told the judge, "that wasn't the murder weapon." How he knew this was unclear.

He told jurors that he was calm after the killings because he had been trained since junior-high school to "stay calm when you deal with fire, crime, drugs and earthquakes." He added that he knew how to stop, drop and roll.

The courtroom was packed. People wanted to see this crazy man act as his own lawyer. But despite the overwhelming evidence of Phadnis' guilt, it took the jury eight hours to reach a verdict. According to the King County Journal:
"He sounded very egocentric," said one man on the jury who didn't give his name. "Everything was all about him and how he got beat up."

Another juror, who also chose not to be identified, said the 12-member jury was slightly divided early in deliberations with at least one juror disagreeing with the rest on the extent of Phadnis's guilt. After two votes, however, the entire jury reached the required unanimous verdict.

"One juror had some philosophical differences from the rest of us at first," he said.

Another juror, a nurse, said she lost confidence in Phadnis's alibi when he spoke of how he managed to outrun his attackers despite his fresh wounds, including a stab wound that punctured his lung, a broken nose, a broken jaw and several other stabs and lacerations.

Prosecutors could have asked for the death penalty in this case, but Senior Deputy Prosecutor Don Raz said his office decided against capital punishment for Phadnis because of his personality disorder and his history with child protective services as an adolescent.
Phadnis will be sentenced on Nov. 8. Can't wait to hear his statement to the court.

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