By Angela Patel
VENTURA, CA – A defendant in a stolen vehicle case, who the Vanguard covered late last month after he claimed his public defender had threatened him and decided to represent himself, appeared again in Ventura County Superior Court, Dept. 12 last week before Judge Patricia M. Murphy.
Dustin Ryan Wilson, the defendant, was in court for another pre-trial conference about his stolen vehicle case.
Wilson seemed even more frustrated and confused about representing himself while in custody than he had last month. No progress had been made in the defendant’s search for what he referred to as “Zoom video correspondence and court dockets.”
“Those documents and my preparation for this matter have been at a near standstill,” Wilson admitted.
He claimed that he’d filed a variety of motions with the court, none of which had been received or addressed. Now, he wanted someone to investigate his case.
“I don’t have any of your motions in the court file,” Judge Murphy responded. “You have to provide written motions to the court so I can make a decision. You don’t just get an investigator, I have to approve the investigator. It’s a very specific request.”
“I’m in need of your help,” Wilson pleaded. “I hate to say it. I know I can’t ask you to overstep any boundaries because of the Pro Per status, I’m just trying to find an alternative, not only for myself but for you, that would work for this case.”
Judge Murphy expressed that she “doesn’t really have an answer for him,” except that he needs to request an investigation to the court in writing if he wants one.
Judge Murphy said that the furthest she would continue the case was a month, although Wilson had requested at least two or three months. “It appears to me that there are people on the other side that may be interested in moving this thing along,” she said.
Wilson continued to ask for more time, and again asked for access to the court dockets and Zoom videos.
At the defendant’s hearing with Judge Murphy in late July, she expressed to him multiple times that the Zoom videos of court proceedings he was looking for did not exist. Today, she once again told him that there were no such videos.
Despite Judge Murphy’s statements, Wilson pushed back, saying he knew of ways to get such videos through the Sheriff’s office or online in exchange for money. He seemed very distressed.
Judge Murphy intervened multiple times to insist that the videos weren’t real. “I don’t want to hear a request for a Zoom recording, because it doesn’t exist, so you need to just forget about that,” she told him.
Wilson refused to accept the judge’s statements. “These records are very real,” he insisted.
Wilson started to ramble. He somewhat incoherently pressed the judge about ‘Rule 47,’ ‘habeas corpus,’ and wanting to change the jurisdiction of the case.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Judge Murphy told Wilson more than once. At least once, she asked him not to interrupt her, but he continued to go on.
“We’re going to stop right there,” she eventually said. “You’re going way off task. I’m not going to talk about it anymore. You know what you have to do if you want approval for any investigative things.”
“I’m beginning to doubt your competency to represent yourself,” Judge Murphy then admitted, “and that’s something I have to find. I don’t understand what you’re saying.”
“If I don’t trust that you’re competent to handle your case, then you can’t handle it,” she continued. “I’m getting close. I’m not there yet, but some of the things you’re saying are not making any sense to me.”
Judge Murphy recommended that defendant Wilson either hire a private lawyer or get one appointed before his next hearing. Despite the questions about his competency, she did not revoke his ability to represent himself.
Wilson remained argumentative after the judge asked him to decide on a date for the next month’s pre-trial hearing. He would not agree to waive his right to a speedy preliminary hearing, despite the fact that he had previously asked to put the case out for more than a month.
Judge Murphy, losing patience, told Wilson that he “could not have it both ways. Either you want a continuance or you don’t.” She explained his options multiple times, yet he still refused to waive his right to a speedy hearing and continue the case.
Eventually, Judge Murphy decided to ignore Wilson’s protests. She quickly conferred with Deputy District Attorney Rameen Minoui and set the preliminary hearing date for Aug. 30. At the preliminary hearing, evidence for and against the defendant will be presented to the court, where the judge will decide if the case goes to trial.
Wilson once again disputed the date, but Judge Murphy refused to keep speaking with him. “We’re not discussing anything any further,” she said. “You’re excused.”