An Akron man representing himself in his murder trial refused to come to court Tuesday afternoon.
This was the first time Marcus Coker has declined to attend one of his appearances for the three felony cases against him in Summit County Common Pleas Court.
“That’s unfortunate,” Judge Kelly McLaughlin said. “With the motions pending, I’d like to give him the opportunity to explain them.”
The motions include a request from Coker to postpone his trial, currently scheduled for April 3. In a Beacon Journal interview at the Summit County Jail last week, Coker said he needed more time to prepare for his trial because he hadn’t yet seen all of the evidence against him.
McLaughlin said she will rule on the motions based on what Coker has filed in handwritten motions. She set another pretrial hearing for 1 p.m. March 26.
Coker, 36, faces 16 charges, including aggravated murder, in the stabbing death of 27-year-old Ashley Williams, his ex-girlfriend, in September 2017. He is the first person charged with murder in Summit County who has represented himself since 2015.
Assistant Prosecutor Joe Dangelo asked McLaughlin to limit a continuance to two or three months if she decides to grant the request. Dangelo also asked the judge to make it clear any other requests for delays will be denied.
“This is a very painful process for the victim’s family,” Dangelo said of Williams’ mother and other family members. Several were in court Tuesday and have been present for all of Coker’s pretrial hearings. “They want some finality in the case. The thing is hanging over their heads.”
McLaughlin said she is not sure if she will grant Coker’s request for a continuance.
Prosecutors previously provided all the evidence against Coker to Don Hicks and Kerry O’Brien, Coker’s standby attorneys, who have been meeting with Coker to review it. Coker requested his own copy of the evidence, but this was difficult because some of it was on flash drives and evidence websites and Coker doesn’t have access to a computer or the internet in the jail.
On Friday, prosecutors provided another copy of the evidence to the attorneys, who gave it to Tom Fields, an Akron investigator appointed by the court to assist Coker with his defense. Fields planned to review the evidence and meet with Coker this week.
O’Brien said he and Hicks will advise Coker about what happened in court Tuesday. The attorneys, both veteran criminal lawyers, have been preparing for trial in case Coker changes his mind and wants them to represent him.
“We will continue to work with him and see how things develop,” O’Brien said.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter:@swarsmithabj.