Suspect defends himself despite warning

November 03, 2002 11:00 pm

By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

Accused murderer Robert Alan Wigley said yesterday he's looking forward to presenting his case to a jury.

"The jury will get to know me and that will take away a lot of the disadvantage," Wigley, 37, told Judge Robert Weir during his arraignment at the Del Norte County Courthouse.

Wigley is facing trial on one charge of first-degree murder with special allegations of rape, torture and oral copulation and a second charge of solicitation of murder.

Wigley fired his court-appointed attorneys and represented himself during his preliminary hearing. Weir, however, warned Wigley to reconsider his decision to act as his own attorney during the trial. Wigley never objected to any evidence or testimony presented during the preliminary hearing from District Attorney Robert Drossel.

"Mistakes could be made that can cost you the trial and ultimately cost you your life. Do you understand that?" Weir asked. The defendant said he did.

"The appointed counsel was afraid to step on certain toes. That's not a problem with me," Wigley replied.

Weir questioned Wigley for several minutes yesterday in an apparent attempt to ascertain his competency.

This coincided with the discovery that Pat Foley, his court-appointed standby attorney, said he attempted to have Wigley declared mentally incompetent to stand trial. Yesterday, Foley asked that he be removed from his standby position.

"Mental competency can fluctuate," said Weir, after claiming he found no indications of incompetency. "Because of the gravity of this case, I am going to deny the request of counsel."

Wigley was arrested last year when the state alleged his DNA was matched to semen found on the body of Camillia Randall, 18, of Longview, Wash. Randall was found strangled near Howland Hill Road in October 1994. The teenager was hitchhiking through the area at the time and allegedly met up with Wigley while he was employed as a motel manager in Crescent City.

Jury selection is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., Dec. 9. A readiness conference is scheduled for Nov. 8.