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Defendant acting as lawyer in double-murder trial draws judge's ire

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Published:   |   Updated: March 13, 2013 at 09:57 AM

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TAMPA -

Before his retrial in the slaying of a mother and daughter began this week, Khalid Pasha heard from the judge. She warned she would stop him from serving as his own attorney if he did not follow court procedures.

That's just what nearly happened Friday, the second day witnesses were called to testify in a case that began in 2002 with the stabbing deaths of Robin Canaday, 43, and her daughter, Ranesha Singleton, 20.

Circuit Judge Kimberly Fernandez had already admonished Pasha three times Friday for making statements about his case while witnesses were on the stand.

Fernandez finally lost her patience with Pasha as he was questioning Jose Sanchez, a witness who testified that he saw Pasha covered in blood walking away from the crime scene.

Pasha, 69, asked Sanchez about a deposition Sanchez gave prosecutors in 2003. Sanchez, who spoke through an interpreter, said he did not remember the statements he gave during that deposition.

Pasha again tried to ask Sanchez about the deposition, but was cut off by Fernandez.

"You may not like answers witnesses tell you," Fernandez said, "but he's already made it very clear that he doesn't recall the deposition you're referring to."

The judge then told Pasha to move on and ask Sanchez other questions.

But Pasha wouldn't let the point go.

"Well, what can I do?" Pasha asked the judge. "He don't remember nothing. What can I ask him? So you're restricting me? You're hiding the truth from the jury?"

Fernandez ordered the bailiffs to remove the jury from the courtroom. Then she blasted Pasha.

"I've asked you three times to refrain from making comments," Fernandez said. "You have, throughout the course of the day, made statements about me hiding the truth or blocking you. I'm going to terminate your self-representation if you can't follow the procedures."

Fernandez then dismissed the jury for the day and set the trial to resume at 8:30 am. Tuesday.

Pasha first drew Fernandez's ire making statements about the case during his cross examination of other witnesses instead of simply asking questions.

Pasha told Fernandez he felt he was being limited in the way he can present his case.

"I'm not an attorney," Pasha said. "I'm doing the best I can."

Pasha fired four lawyers and tried to represent himself more than once before his first trial in 2007. He eventually allowed an attorney to represent him.

At the 2007 trial, witnesses testified they were parked behind Woodland Corporate Center near Waters and Manhattan avenues when they saw a man with a shiny object wearing a white jumpsuit covered in blood driving away in a white van.

Deputies said they stopped Pasha in his van at a red light and found a blood-soaked jumpsuit and a bloody knife. The women's bodies were found in the woods near the corporate center.

Jurors convicted Pasha in the killing of Canaday and Singleton and he was sentenced to death.

In 2010, the Florida Supreme Court overturned the death sentence and ruled that Pasha should have been allowed to fire his court-appointed attorney in 2007 and represent himself.


rreyes@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7920

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