From: B-Haile (email@example.com)
Date: Fri Feb 18 2011 - 07:06:17 EST
Defendant in Thanksgiving slaying banned for courtroom
By Paul T. Rosynsky
Posted: 02/17/2011 11:51:32 AM PST
OAKLAND -- A triple murder case against two brothers accused of killing their in-laws was delayed again Thursday as one of the brothers was sent to a doctor after complaining of having a fever and pain in his chest.
Tewodros Gebreselassie, 43, was granted an emergency order to see a doctor, forcing a delay in a trial that has already been hampered by frequent outbursts from Gebreselassie's brother, Asmerom, who engaged in a yelling match with a judge this week.
That yelling match resulted in Asmerom Gebreselassie, 47, losing his right to represent himself against charges that could send him to prison for life.
Instead, he will be represented by Darryl Stallworth, a court-appointed defense attorney who had been advising Asmerom Gebreselassie.
The Gebreselassies are accused of killing three in-laws; Asmerom is accused of being the shooter, while Tewodros is accused of helping his brother gain entry into an apartment where the in-laws were preparing a Thanksgiving Day dinner in 2006.
The removal of Asmerom Gebreselassie from the case also sparked questions as to whether he will be allowed to remain in court for the rest of the trial and whether Tewodros Gebreselassie has the right to a new, separate trial.
Despite the delay caused by Tewodros Gebreselassie's illness, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Vern Nakahara said Thursday that he plans to continue the case next week.
Nakahara said he plans to deny Tewodros Gebreselassie's request for a new, separate trial and that he will ban Asmerom Gebreselassie from the courtroom unless the native of Eritrea can prove that he will not disrupt court proceedings.
"If he can't (behave), well then, that's it, he's lost the right to be present," Nakahara said. "He can always reclaim his right to be present. He holds the key."
Asmerom Gebreselassie had an outburst in front of the jury earlier this week after he was denied a request to reopen questioning of a witness on a topic he had already explored.
The denial sent him into a rage as he began yelling at the judge, accusing Nakahara of having a bias against him and working with the district attorney to secure a guilty verdict.
Asmerom Gebreselassie's outbursts continued Wednesday during a hearing to determine if he could continue to represent himself in the case.
During that outburst, he accused Nakahara of acting like a child and impersonated deputy district attorney Joni Leventis as he used a high-pitched voice and pretended to be offering the judge compliments.
After the outburst, Asmerom Gebreselassie said he no longer wanted to be present for his trial.
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