Murder suspect tells judge he’s able to represent himself because he’s seen a trial on TV


The Elkhart Truth – A man charged in a 2015 Elkhart murder and criminal confinement case insisted Thursday on representing himself in court despite warnings from the judge that it could be the worst decision of his life.

Elkhart County Circuit Court Judge Terry Shewmaker granted the request of Leon Tyson, 28, to represent himself as he stands trial on charges related to the shooting death of Tommie Strowder. The 37-year-old Strowder was shot and killed June 20, 2015, in the 500 block of West Marion Street in Elkhart.

Tyson had signed a waiver and said he wanted to proceed with the trial without a lawyer. Shewmaker said he would only allow him to give up his right to a lawyer if he understood what that meant for his trial.

This is refreshing to see. In a time where everyone gets a participation trophy, we have some unbridled confidence that is desperately needed in this country. Leon Tyson is 28 years old, so not only is he old enough to know that you shouldn’t kidnap and murder people, but he’s also old enough to remember how YouTube changed the world. You can learn how to do absolutely anything on the internet these days. I have convinced myself around 100 times that I could perform brain surgery if you found me the right patient and the right video to follow along with. So how is it, that if we can perform brain surgery based on a step by step video online, that Leon can’t represent himself in a court of law? Let’s look at the facts:

Tyson told the judge he would educate himself on what he needed to do and would represent himself “to the best of my abilities,” but he was not able to answer many of Shewmaker’s questions to the judge’s satisfaction, such as the number of pre-emptory challenges allowed in jury selection and the applicability of federal case law to a state case such as his.

Ok, that’s just not fair. How many episodes of Law and Order SVU have you watched where they’ve picked an actual jury on camera? How many episodes have you watched that cover the applicability of federal case law to a state case such as this? None. That’s how many. So I object, your honor, those questions are not only unfair, but as far as I know, don’t actually apply to a case such as this. How about we do this: you call a recess, Leon can fire up a few Law School for Dummies DVD’s, and let’s  try this again in a few weeks.


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