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Defendant wants to represent himself

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- The head of a Philadelphia drug gang charged with ordering the killing of witnesses has asked to represent himself at his coming trial.

Kaboni Savage's court-appointed lawyer is fighting the motion, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Christopher Warren said he thinks the months Savage has spent in solitary confinement at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York have affected his judgment.

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"I think this raises serious issues about his competency," Warren said. "I think it's taken a toll. You know that expression, 'A person who represents himself has a fool for a client'? The Kaboni I know is not a fool. But this is certainly a foolish move on his part."

Savage, 35, a former boxer, alleged ordered 12 killings, at least seven of them aimed at witnesses. In one case, two co-defendants allegedly firebombed the house of Marcella Coleman, whose son Eugene testified against him. Marcella Coleman, her 15-month-old grandson, another woman and her three children died in the fire.

In a surreptitiously taped conversation, Savage joked Eugene Coleman should get barbecue sauce to take to the funerals.

U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick has scheduled a hearing Thursday on Savage's motion to represent himself, Warren said.

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