Accused wife-killer can be his own lawyer

Jan. 24, 2011 at 3:10 PM

BUFFALO, N.Y., Jan. 24 (UPI) -- A man on trial in the beheading of his wife can be his own lawyer, a Buffalo, N.Y., judge decided Monday.

Erie County Judge Thomas Franczyk granted the request of Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan, saying he "does have the right to steer his own ship even if unwittingly he steers it into an iceberg," The Buffalo News reported.

Jeremy Schwartz, Hassan's latest lawyer, told Franczyk his talks with the former cable television entrepreneur failed to resolve "irreconcilable differences."

Hassan has been in custody since he turned himself in to Orchard Park, N.Y., police an hour after the Feb. 12, 2009, killing of his estranged wife Aasiya.

After Franczyk's ruling, Hassan and attorneys in the case went into chambers to discuss what the defendant called "sensitive issues" before the fourth day of testimony begins.

Schwartz, Hassan's fourth lawyer in the case, had been his courtroom spokesman for months but did not sign a counsel agreement until last week.

Franczyk warned Hassan he will not let him to stray from the central issues, whether the evidence proves he deliberately killed his wife or killed her in self-defense as he claims.

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