CROWN POINT — A man told a judge he was suicidal, repeated allegations that jail staff is putting poison in his food and ultimately went to trial Monday on allegations he killed a man and wounded a woman last year in Gary.
Ronald Menzie, 42, repeatedly insisted on representing himself leading up to Monday's trial date, Lake Criminal Court Judge Salvador Vasquez said.
Menzie at one point accepted assistance on a standby basis from a public defender, but he fired that attorney in recent weeks.
Lake County Jail staff initially did not bring Menzie to court Monday, because he said he was suicidal. After hearing from the jail's warden, deputy warden and mental health director, Vasquez ordered that Menzie be brought to court.
Menzie arrived and said: "I'm suicidal."
Vasquez told Menzie he had given no indications he did not understand the court proceedings. Vasquez reminded Menzie he'd warned him many times that going to trial without an attorney was a bad idea.
"I question whether what you're doing here is just a tactic to delay your trial," the judge said.
Menzie denied he was trying to delay his trial.
"I'm tired of this cat and mouse game," he said. "They're trying to kill me, so go ahead and get it over with."
Menzie is accused of shooting Broderick Harbin, 30, in the head and a woman in the hand March 11, 2018, as 10 children slept inside a home in the 2100 block of Carolina Street in Gary. Harbin died at the scene.
The wounded woman told police Harbin, her ex-boyfriend, argued with her and hit her in the presence of Menzie, which led Menzie to shoot Harbin, according to court records.
Menzie on Monday repeated allegations that jail staff is putting poison in the food that comes to him on a tray in his cell. He claimed the poison makes his heart malfunction and accused jail medical staff of not investigating why he lost 20 pounds over two to three months.
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Vasquez took a recess so Dr. William Mescall, the jail's mental health director, could speak with Menzie.
Mescall returned to testify that Menzie was at low risk for suicide. However, the doctor he was not in a position to determine if Menzie was competent to understand legal proceedings.
Mental health workers in the jail had been checking on Menzie, but he has not been treated in the jail's mental health section, Mescall said.
Menzie accused the doctor of lying.
"Trial or no trial, I see no way to make it out alive," he said.
Vasquez said jail staff had tested Menzie's food and found nothing.
Menzie claimed he wasn't competent to stand trial, admitted he lacks legal training and said he wasn't prepared to respond to the nine motions filed Monday by the state seeking to prohibit him from mentioning various facts and legal terms. Lake County Deputy Prosecutors Keith Anderson and Jonathan Soverly argued they either weren't relevant or would mislead or confuse the jury.
Vasquez explained prosecutors and Menzie may file such motions before or during the trial.
Menzie claimed he was a victim of "the system."
Vasquez said Menzie’s motion to delay trial was denied. Jury selection began just after noon.