Chris Simcox, former minuteman leader and alleged child molester, is looking to test that old saw about how any defendant who acts as his own attorney "has a fool for a client."
According to a February 12 filing in Maricopa County Superior Court, Simcox wants to fire his public defenders and play Perry Mason during his scheduled March 2 trial before Judge Jose Padilla in Phoenix.
Simcox's request to the court states that "after conferring with his assigned attorneys in this matter," the man whose detractors have labeled "the Little Prince" is invoking "his right to represent himself for all further proceedings, including the jury trial set in this matter."
Indeed, after nearly two years of delays, with Simcox being held nonbondable the whole time in the jail of his old ally Sheriff Joe Arpaio, it looks as if that trial will be going forward.
The County Attorney's Office recently submitted a lengthy request for a continuance, noting that the assigned prosecutor for the Simcox matter, Yigael Cohen, has his hands full with another case.
But Padilla denied that request last week. A pre-trial conference is scheduled for February 23.
Simcox is accused of horrific crimes, for which he possibly could spend the rest of his life in prison under Arizona law.
The county attorney's recent pleading coldly summarizes the allegations against the former head honcho of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps:
Defendant in this case is charged with three counts of Sexual Conduct with a Minor and two counts of Child Molestation. All are class 2 felonies and Dangerous Crimes Against Children. He is also charged with one count of Furnishing Harmful Materials to a Minor.
Defendant is alleged to have digitally penetrated his biological daughter's [vagina] on two occasions, penetrated her vagina with an object on [one] occasion and to have fondled the genitals of his daughter's friend on two occasions.The victims were 6 and 5 years old respectively.
Simcox pleaded not guilty to the allegations at his 2013 arraignment.
He has been represented throughout, at taxpayer expense, by sometimes two, sometimes three attorneys from the county's Office of the Legal Defender.
A rather generous plea deal has been on the table since August 2013 and was still open as of late last year.
During a November settlement conference, Judge Joseph Welty, the presiding criminal judge of superior court, patiently explained to Simcox that if he took the deal and pleaded guilty to attempted molestation, he would do about seven to 10 years in stir.
See also: -The Mother of a Molestation Victim Cries Foul Over Plea Deal for Chris Simcox -Accused Child Molester Chris Simcox, ex-Employee of Doug Ducey's iMemories, Spurns Plea Offer, Wants to Go to Trial -Chris Simcox's Life Arc Mirrors the Nativist Movement's Demise
But if he decided to roll the dice, Welty warned, Simcox might never breathe free air again.
Simcox spurned the offer.
"In a sense, I kind of welcome the trial," said Simcox at the time, shackled and dressed in standard county stripes. "I would relish the opportunity for the truth to come out."
Simcox faces long odds, and in representing himself, they become longer.
Already, the court has ruled that evidence of prior allegations against Simcox can be admitted.
These include claims by his ex-wife Alena that he was physically abusive and one night threatened to kill her, their children, and any cops who responded before shooting himself.
Alena's order of protection against Simcox got him fired as an adviser with the 2010 U.S. Senate campaign of Republican J.D. Hayworth.
Prior to dropping out and endorsing Hayworth, Simcox also had been running for U.S. Senate in the 2010 GOP primary, a race Senator John McCain eventually won.
There's a laundry list of prior allegations against Simcox of spousal and child abuse, and allegations that he abused both alcohol and illegal drugs.
A 2005 piece published in the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report magazine detailed allegations that Simcox had fondled his teenage daughter by a previous marriage.
He also has a conviction in federal court of lying to a federal agent.
It's bad enough that the prosecution will be forced to put little children on the stand in this trial, but the spectacle of Simcox cross-examining these children likely will not endear him to the jury.
Hopefully, Simcox's arrogance and stupidity finally will ensure that he spends his remaining years in the custody of the Arizona Department of Corrections.
But at one time, the nativist leader was lionized by the media and sought after by powerful politicians eager to appear hawkish on border issues.
Nowadays, they're ashamed to admit they once rubbed shoulders with Simcox.
Oh, and that plea offer from the county attorney?
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According to MCAO spokesman Jerry Cobb, it has been withdrawn.
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