by AMANDA WINTERS
The man accused of killing two Sequim-area registered sex offenders June 4 will represent himself on aggravated murder charges.
After asking defendant Patrick Drum, 34, of Sequim, a series of questions regarding legal representation, his education and whether he fully understood what was at stake, Clallam County Superior Court Judge Ken Williams ruled to allow Drum to represent himself.
Drum, who has a tattoo of a bird foot on his freshly-shaven head, answered the judge’s questions clearly and politely, calling the judge “sir.”
Drum told Judge Williams he completed the seventh grade and passed the GED test without studying for a day. He said he’s studied in law libraries and has represented himself before on appeals and in civil action. He said he understands the charges and the possibility of the death sentence or life without parole.
Williams asked if he understood he’d have to ask himself questions if he took the stand in his defense and if he understood he could not obtain a reversal on the basis of inadequate representation should he represent himself and be convicted.
Drum said yes.
“I stood up for a belief and the attorneys don’t have the same belief,” Drum said when asked why he wanted to represent himself. “I want to stand on my own two feet… I want to speak for myself.”
Williams, acknowledging Drum’s right to represent himself, said he found Drum understands the circumstances, consequences and is familiar with the rules. He allowed Drum to represent himself but said, “I would suggest you could change your mind at any time.”
Drum faces two counts of aggravated murder in the deaths of Jerry Ray and Gary Blanton Jr., one count of burglary and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm.
He tried to plead guilty at a June 13 hearing but was not allowed to do so.
Karen Unger, appointed to represent Drum, said defendants charged with aggravated first-degree murder are not allowed to plead guilty at the initial arraignment when the prosecutor has announced the intent to consider the death penalty.
In Washington State, prosecutors have until 30 days from a defendant’s arraignment to decide whether or not to seek the death penalty at sentencing. Clallam County Prosecutor Deb Kelly must make that decision by the July 13 status hearing.
At the June 28 hearing, Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Deb Kelly withdrew her motion to evaluate Drum’s competency, filed “in haste” before she left town, she said.
Kelly said Drum has been articulate and filed his own motions and she doesn’t question his competency at this time.
Williams appointed Unger and attorney Ronald Ness as standby counsel.
Drum remains in custody without bail at the Clallam County jail.
Reach Amanda Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org.