STOCKTON (AP) — A former California Death Row inmate has failed to participate in his weeklong murder retrial even though he was serving as his own attorney.
Blufford Hayes Jr. declined to make a closing argument on Wednesday, continuing not to put up a defense. The case was in the hands of a jury.
Hayes, 58, was convicted of the slaying more than 30 years ago of a Stockton motel manager, Vinod Patel, and sentenced to death. Prosecutors say he had a heroin addiction and lured Patel to his sister's motel room with the intention of killing him and burglarizing him.
Patel suffered multiple stab wounds to the chest. Hayes said he killed Patel in self-defense after waking up to find Patel attacking him.
A federal appeals court overturned the conviction in 2005, ruling that the prosecutor had made a secret deal with a jail informant in exchange for testimony against Hayes.
Legal experts say Hayes' decision not to cross-examine witnesses at his retrial makes it highly unlikely he will avoid conviction.
"Unless you have someone cross-examining the witness, how on earth is the jury supposed to have any doubt?" Michael Vitiello, a law professor at the University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law, told the Record.
Gabriel Chin, a law professor at the University of California, Davis, said if Hayes is not participating in the trial to try to set up grounds for an appeal, he will likely be unsuccessful.
"If you could, then nobody would ever be convicted," Chin said. "People would represent themselves and then sabotage their cases."