Ray Anthony Gonzales, who is representing himself in the trial, appeared in court Monday before Superior Court Judge Dennis Blackmon for preliminary motions and hearings.
Assistant District Attorney Anne Allen, representing the state, said the defendant’s alleged abuse of the victim was “ongoing” and that she could not comment on the specifics of the case because the investigation was still pending.
Blackmon made it clear to Gonzales that his choice to proceed with the trial without a legally trained attorney was “risky.”
“I cannot overstate the risk involved in this,” Blackmon said. “It is impossible to overstate the magnitude of your decision to go to trial without an attorney.”
Blackmon gave the defendant one last chance to request an attorney, saying he could be facing up to 100 years of prison time, with some of his charges not allowing for parole.
But Gonzales said he understands the risk and that he would like to continue with jury selection this morning.
Allen made several pre-trial motions, mostly concerning evidence that will or will not be admissible before the jury.
One such motion was to include admissions made by Gonzales in a motion he filed in April to the court, in which he admits to having sexual relations with the victim, but claims that the victim was not underage and it was done as a form of bribery.
“I’m not going to quote you directly from this motion,” Blackmon said, reading Gonzales’ April motion back to him. “But you say something like, ‘Yes, I had sex with the victim but it was for money, a bribery sort of thing.’ It doesn’t matter if it was paid for or a matter of money or whatever, Georgia law doesn’t allow for having sex with a minor.”
Gonzales said his defense was mainly going to consist of proving to the jury that the victim was not under the age of 16 at the time of the alleged crime.
Gonzales had no objection to his admission being admitted into evidence — in fact, he welcomed it, saying it was going to be the major part of his defense.
“If [Allen] wants to, she can,” Gonzales said about presenting the evidence to the jury.
The district attorney’s office learned Monday morning that Gonzales has filed a federal lawsuit against Carroll County for the jail’s lack of a law library where he could research case law for his trial. That issue was brought up when he objected to Allen’s request for prior criminal history to be included.
“Do you have any reason to object to that?” Blackmon asked the defendant. “Any case law to back it up?”
Gonzales replied that he did not because there is no law library at Carroll County jail, and his attempts to research case law online have been unsuccessful.
When presented the physical evidence of his alleged crimes, Gonzales told Allen and the district attorney’s office investigator that he had seen the pictures of the evidence, which was sufficient for him.
Before closing the pre-trial hearing, Gonzales asked that the investigator produce his cellphone before the trial because he plans to use it in his defense, to which Blackmon and the state had no objection, so long as Gonzales’ use of the cellphone is monitored to make sure he doesn’t delete any incriminating content.
The murder trial of three suspects of the shooting death of a Marietta man last September was put on the trial calendar last week, but was taken off and continued to Nov. 5 because of the Gonzales trial.
Egim Chris Etta-Tawo, Roudolphe Germain and Evan Winston, all in their early 20s, were scheduled to appear for a trial for the first time in February.
The three men were indicted last October for the murder of 21-year-old Kevin Woods on counts of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and several other charges after what police called a “drug deal gone wrong.”
Etta-Tawo is also charged in another case with possession and distribution of marijuana.
In the original incident report filed, Carrollton Police Officer Brandon Wilson reported finding the victim dead in a Dodge Charger in the parking lot of Chateau Apartments on Hay’s Mill Road at approximately 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2, 2011, shortly after the shooting occurred.
According to Inv. Chad Taylor, it is currently the belief of police that Etta-Tawo had set up a marijuana deal between the victim and the other two suspects, which ended with Woods’ death. Winston and Germain reportedly drove off in a 1999 Toyota Camry.
Germain is being represented by Atlanta attorney Charles Brant, and Etta-Tawo is represented by Carrollton attorney Kevin Drummond. Winston is being represented by Atlanta attorney Mawuli Davis.