Judge removes WetzelA judge had an accused felon removed from a Stark County courtroom Tuesday afternoon for “disruptive conduct.”
A judge had an accused felon removed from a Stark County courtroom Tuesday afternoon for “disruptive conduct.”
After not heeding the judge’s warning that he would be held in contempt of court, Judge William Herauf had a deputy remove Joel Wetzel from a hearing.
Wetzel, a 61-year-old Dickinson man, faces five felony charges in connection to an alleged break-in and shooting in Dickinson in 2008.
Wetzel was objecting to Herauf’s order, which does not allow him to represent himself in court when he was thrown out.
“Your objection is well-noted in the record and I made my ruling on it and I’m going to stand by my ruling on it,” Herauf said.
Wetzel believes his rights have been violated.
“Your ruling’s not constitutional because doctors have deemed me three times competent to stand trial and competent to represent myself,” Wetzel said before being removed. “I never got my chance to argue the issue.”
At the end of the hearing, Kelly Armstrong, Wetzel’s attorney, reiterated his objection to being forced to have an attorney.
“I understand that and I hate to put you in a bad position on this,” Herauf said. “I think that in order for him to have a fair trial on this, he needs the assistance of a professional in this matter.”
After the hearing, Herauf declined comment on whether he found Wetzel in contempt.
Wetzel allegedly broke into a Dickinson home and shot at a door, causing fragments from the door to injure a resident in July 2008, according to a criminal complaint.
Wetzel is also accused of pointing a gun at officers that responded to the incident. Sgt. Dan Brown then shot Wetzel in the torso, according to authorities.
However, Wetzel disputes all charges and claims he was shot, unprovoked, in the back by three officers who responded to the incident.
Armstrong said it will be a struggle to prepare for trial, because Wetzel had a different attorney until October. After the hearing, Armstrong said he will have it together in time as long as there are no major surprises.
Wetzel has already released some medical information, but whether or not more should or can be released may be an issue, Jim Hope, Stark County assistant state’s attorney added.
Armstrong and Hope declined further comment.
“My problem with picking a jury in this case is the extensive amount of publicity already and I’m going to do everything I can to avoid anymore of it,” Armstrong said.
However, he expects to be able to select a jury.
Wetzel’s trial begins June 7.