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Judge to murder defendant: You’re on your own

Todd Boderick wanted to skip his scheduled appearance Thursday in Mecklenburg Superior Court.

But the judge in Courtroom 5350 insisted.

For the fourth time since he was charged with the 2012 beating death of his 6-month-old daughter, Boderick tried to change lawyers.

“I have learned that I am indeed fired,” Charlotte attorney Scott Gsell told Judge Richard Boner after meeting with Boderick in the prisoner waiting area of the Mecklenburg County Courthouse.

Does he want to defend himself, the judge asked?

Gsell told Boner that he found Boderick to be “intelligent” but that his client had, in effect, ordered him to mount a defense that was not credible.

He’s on the verge of losing his right to a court-appointed attorney, the judge said. “He’s not as smart as he thinks he is.”

To make sure Boderick understood his situation, Boner asked the bailiffs to bring the prisoner into court.

Boderick refused to come, the judge was told.

“Drag him out here,” Boner replied.

Boderick, 26, faces first-degree murder charges in connection with the death of his daughter, Keyoni. Prosecutors say the infant’s skull had been crushed as if it had been stomped, and that her ribs had been repeatedly broken, indicating that she had been beaten over a long period of time.

The child’s mother, Krishay Mouzon, also has been charged with murder in connection with the case.

The couple originally told police that Keyoni had been dropped. That’s the same explanation they gave in 2010 when they were charged with felony child abuse of their then 7-week-old son. Those charges were later dismissed.

Gsell took over Boderick’s defense in July, not long after Boderick told Boner that he and his former appointed attorney, Susan Weigand, did not agree on legal strategy.

On Thursday, Boner called Gsell and Assistant District Attorney Bill Bunting to his bench to discuss the court’s next step. “If we give him another attorney,” Boner told them, “he’s just going to fire him again.”

He then ordered that Boderick be brought before him.

Moments later, the 120-pound defendant, a deputy at each shoulder, made his noisy entrance. He shouted something as he was pulled through the door, then stood at the defense table, swinging his shoulders free from the deputies’ grips, avoiding Boner’s gaze.

The judge waded in:

He asked Boderick: Do you understand that if I let you fire your attorney, you will not get another one and you will have to defend yourself?

Boderick: “I don’t agree to anything.”

Boner: “I don’t care if you agree. I asked you if you understand?”

Boderick: “I don’t agree to anything,”

Boner: Do you understand that you are facing a first-degree murder charge with a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole?

Boderick: “I don’t agree to anything.”

The judge tried one more time.

Boner: Do you understand that if I fire your attorney, you will be on trial for your life and on your own? What’s it going to be?

Boderick: “I don’t agree to anything.”

“Fine,” Boner said.

Unless his family hires a private attorney, Boderick would defend himself.

The judge’s work was not quite done.

Fifteen minutes later, he threw out a plea agreement for Edrick Henighan when the tall, dreadlocked murder defendant said he, too, wasn’t satisfied with his attorney.

With that, Boner adjourned the court for lunch.

As he stood to leave, the judge told those still milling about the courtroom that he was thinking of starting a store, and he already had a name.

He said he’d call it, “Knuckleheads R Us.”

Gordon: 704-358-5095
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