Local News

Tuesday, Nov 27 2012 01:36 PM

Lightsey back in court here, still talking

BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

Judge John W. Lua just wanted to set the next court date for convicted murderer Christopher Charles Lightsey, but Lightsey demanded to have his say first.

"Your honor, it's critical that you give me an opportunity to be heard," Lightsey said in one of several interruptions during Tuesday's proceedings.

Lua repeatedly told Lightsey -- who has spent the past 17 years on death row -- that he should talk to his attorneys about his concerns. Lua then set the next hearing for March 5 to give defense attorneys Tony Lidgett and Richard Terry and Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green time to file their motions.

Lightsey continued to talk as he was led out of the courtroom by three deputies. He appeared frail and the deputies assisted him to his wheelchair.

"These proceedings are entirely illegal," he said.

Disrupting court proceedings is nothing new for Lightsey. He was gagged in court on Aug. 15, 1995 during the sentencing phase of his murder trial after repeated interruptions.

It's likely that Lua will determine at the next court date whether a retrospective competency hearing is feasible for Lightsey. Sentenced to death for the murder of cancer patient William Compton, Lightsey is back in Kern County because the California Supreme Court ruled in July that a Kern County judge violated state law by failing to appoint an attorney and allowing Lightsey to represent himself in a 1994 competency hearing.

In addition to the murder of Compton, Lightsey has also been named a suspect in the 1990 killing of 4-year-old Jessica Martinez. He has not been charged with that murder, but Bakersfield police said in September that all other potential suspects have been eliminated and the investigation continues.

Jessica went missing one night in May 1990 after playing about 40 feet from her family's home. Lightsey had moved into the same apartment complex Jessica and her family were living in about a week before her disappearance.

Jessica's body was found about two weeks later buried in a cotton field 10 miles south of Bakersfield.

In a September jailhouse interview, Lightsey said he didn't kill Compton or Jessica. He also said he was not fit to represent himself during the competency hearing in the trial for Compton's murder.

A DNA test taken in 2008 did not connect Lightsey to male DNA found on Jessica's clothing, but police maintain he is the sole suspect. The test was performed after police interviewed Lightsey in San Quentin State Prison about her death, and he knew how she died without police telling him, according to a search warrant filed at the time.

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