A Waukesha man accused of killing a stranger in 2015 recently told a judge that he was requesting "Jesus Christ" as his defense, and in the same letter indicated he intends to represent himself as his murder case resumes following a trio of competency hearings.
The note from 37-year-old Justin Carl came on March 2 – one day before he was required to secure new counsel, court records show. Presiding Waukesha County Circuit Judge Ralph Ramirez established the March 3 deadline at a hearing late last month during which he approved Carl's request to seek new representation and determined Carl was mentally fit to proceed with the case.
According to online court records, Carl's decision to serve as his own attorney will be reviewed at a March 15 hearing. It marks the latest in a string of unusual events in the case, which has stretched on for about 18 months.
Carl stands accused of first-degree intentional homicide in the killing of Waukesha resident Kevin Hueman.
Carl's case has been punctuated by series of unusual turns, at least dating back to the abrupt delay of his demand for a speedy trial, which was called off suddenly last July when his attorney, public defender Maura McMahon, discovered previously unseen and possibly exculpatory computer evidence.
Since then the case has grown stranger.
Carl's trial was suspended in September, after three days of testimony, following several disruptive outbursts from him, including one instance in which he shouted an objection to testimony. That behavior is what led McMahon to raise the competency issue.
Carl was deemed competent following three separate psychological evaluations, but, a short time before his February hearing, a letter purportedly written by him, openly criticizing Ramirez, was mailed to the courthouse. A second letter full of religious exclamations concerning Carl's case and supposedly authored by another inmate was also sent.
Carl has denied writing the letters. He also appears to be considering filing a medical negligence lawsuit against the county for what he describes as its failure to provide adequate care to him while he has been incarcerated at the county jail.
He requested information about how to file such a suit late last month, court documents show.
Carl's request to represent himself stems at least in part from his frustration with McMahon's handling of the case. Before and during his trial, he wrote a handful of letters to Ramirez expressing his unhappiness with her counsel.
He told Ramirez in February he wanted to seek a private attorney.
Ramirez said McMahon would remain on his case until he could secure new counsel. If Carl cannot secure private counsel, another public defender will be appointed to take his case.
According to a criminal complaint, Carl fatally shot Hueman, an apparent stranger to Carl, around 8:17 p.m. Aug. 14, 2015, shortly after Hueman walked outside his North Street home to smoke and watch a thunderstorm.
Carl stands accused of two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon in addition to the homicide charge, and if convicted is facing a mandatory life sentence.