Murder Defendant's Request For New Attorney Denied

October 02, 1991|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

A Laurel man scheduled to stand trial next week on charges of killing his girlfriend and her son, told a Circuit Court judge on Monday that he refuses to participate in his trial because he is not satisfiedwith his attorney from the public defender's office.

Melvin McMains, charged in the January slayings of his girlfriend, Caria Roth, 30, and her 7-year-old son, Christopher, complained that his attorney, Anthony Lyons, has not acted in his best interests in the preparationof his case.

"I feel as if he (Lyons) has tried and convicted me on the most serious charges without the evidence," McMains told Circuit Judge Cornelius F. Sybert Jr.

McMains, 37, who faces two counts of first-degree murder, said he could not afford to hire his own attorney and asked the court to appoint substitute counsel.

He said he believed Lyons coerced him to accept a plea in the case and refused to allow himto plead temporary insanity.

"He's telling me, if you go to courtyou don't have a chance," McMains said.

Sybert denied McMains' request and told him that his trial will begin Monday with Lyons as hisattorney.

The state intends to seek the death penalty in the case.

"I'm not going to permit you to discharge counsel," Sybert said."In my opinion, Mr. Lyons has done everything he can do under the law for you.

"You think because he sits down and discusses a plea with you, he thinks you're guilty?" Sybert asked McMains.

Lyons saidhe knew nothing of McMains' decision to request a new attorney and wouldn't comment further on the case.

Barbara Kreinar, Lyons' co-counsel on the case, said she advised McMains to retain Lyons as his attorney.

"I can attest to the amount of time and effort that he (Lyons) has put into this case," Kreinar said. "I told him I've never seen an attorney do more in a case."

Under the policy of the public defender's office, Sybert told McMains, once an attorney is appointedto a case, the case is not reassigned to another lawyer.

Police arrested McMains on Jan. 13, after finding the bodies of Roth, her son, and the family dog in their apartment in the 9100 block of Bourbon Street in Laurel.

At pretrial hearings in June, police testified that McMains met officers at the scene saying, "I have sinned, I am a Christian. I did the right thing by calling the police."

Police said McMains told them that he had shot Roth with a .45-caliber automatic and stabbed Christopher to death.

McMains also said he had beensmoking the drug PCP the night before the killings, police said.

A forensic psychiatrist who interviewed McMains at the police stationafter his arrest, concluded that his judgment was impaired from PCP but did not find him mentally incompetent.

"His mental state was the result of PCP and not a mental disorder that would lead to an insanity plea," said Christine Tellefsen, of the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup.

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