Capital Murder Defendant Decides To Represent Himself - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/02/05

Capital Murder Defendant Decides To Represent Himself

Joseph Goff walked into court trying to look the part he will now play in his capital murder trial.

The two lawyers Goff had used in the past were ready to defend him again. But Goff told the judge he didn't want their help.

Goff said he could do a better job defending himself against charges he killed and mutilated a woman at Lucedale's Rocky Creek Inn last summer.

"I'm very surprised. We did not expect that this morning. He has a constitutional right to do that," District Attorney Tony Lawrence says.

Lawrence says the move doesn't make sense, since Goff has already admitted to being at the crime scene and setting the room on fire.

"I've never seen anyone I've been involved with do that, but there are instances when it happened before," Lawrence said.

"What worries me is how the trial will progress and whether it will be an ordinary trial. But I think the judge was right when he allowed him to do it and appoint his lawyers as his co-council."

Brandy Yates' mother Carolyn Stewart came to court hoping for justice for her daughter. Stewart didn't expect this twist.

"I don't know what I think. I'm still kind of in shock about it. I don't understand why anybody would want to do that," Stewart says.

But she also doesn't understand why anyone would want to murder her daughter.

"She was full of life, loved to have fun. She was a wonderful daughter. She was a good mother, a loving mother, and we miss her."

Stewart just hopes Goff ends up behind bars for good.

"From the evidence I know of, I would say he did it. But he has a right to a trial and to defend himself if he wants to. It's his choice. We want to see justice done," Stewart says.

By Jaimee Goad

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