• Man who represented self at trial found guilty of murder


    LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - A man accused of kidnapping an 81-year-old woman from a Publix store and then killing her was found guilty of murder after representing himself at his trial in Marion County.

    Donald Williams, 54, told the jury he's lived his life with a myriad of mental health disorders and endured physical trauma, but insisted he didn't kill Janet Patrick, whose decomposing body was found on Oct. 26, 2010, in a remote section of Polk County.

    She and Williams were seen on surveillance video leaving the Publix in Leesburg.

    During sentencing, Williams is expected to lay out his mental health history. He already told the jury about hallucinations, head injuries and a claim that while homeless, he lived in a graveyard.

    "It's really unwise in a capital case to represent yourself," said WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer. "Look, you don't know what you don't know and it can come back to hurt you."

    After a two-week trial that took some bizarre turns, including Williams' request for a public defender to help him near the end, it took the jury three hours to come back with a guilty verdict.

    Williams had tried to convince the jury he was mentally ill at the time of the killing yet competent enough later to act as his own attorney.

    During his opening statements, Williams told the jury about being afflicted with bipolar disorder, seizures and hallucinations.

    "Many times I've seen things no one else sees or hears," he told the jury.

    The former construction worker fired his defense team in February and told the jury he had no idea what he was doing.

    Patrick's cause and date of death were never determined.

    Williams now faces the death sentence. The penalty phase of his trial will begin Tuesday.

    Sheaffer said with life or death on the line, Williams needs an expert.

    "He better have an attorney that's helping him on presenting this penalty phase," said Sheaffer.

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    Man who represented self at trial found guilty of murder