Man’s ‘Holy War’ on Drugs Leads to Murder Charge
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) _ A judge on Tuesday refused to dismiss an aggravated murder charge against a man who has loudly proclaimed his guilt in previous courtroom appearances and allegedly declared a ″holy war″ war on cocaine dealers.
Lawyers for Christopher Malone said their client was not brought to trial within the required 90 days for the March 16 death of Harold T. Norton, who was killed by a shotgun blast while working on a car.
Joseph McCutcheon, 21, is to stand trial in the killing next week.
Judge John Meagher refused to dismiss the charge. Because of previous courtroom outbursts in which Malone has admitted the killing, Meagher ordered heavy security for the trial.
That included a metal detector which checked every spectator on Tuesday, and a television system so Malone could be removed from the courtroom but still watch the trial, Meagher said.
At a March 19 preliminary hearing in Dayton Municipal Court, Malone shouted: ″There is no co-defendant. Those guys didn’t do it. I did.″
At an April 21 hearing in Common Pleas Court, Malone argued with prosecutors and demanded return of some jewelry he said he was wearing at the time of his arrest.
So far Malone, 35, has quietly helped with his defense, but the judge briefly cleared the courtroom Tuesday when Malone became visibly agitated during testimony by Gregory Perry, who lived in the house and identified Malone as the man who shot Norton.
The case took a bizarre turn shortly after the murder when a woman who identified herself as Malone’s girlfriend called the Dayton Daily News and Journal Herald and read a letter which she said was written by Malone.
In the letter, he claimed to be the Buffalo Soldier, a name given to black cavalry troops during the Indian Wars of the 1870s.
The letter announced a ″holy war against crack in Dayton″ and said Norton was working at the house of a reputed dealer in crack.
″The number-one crack king ... must die,″ the letter said. ″I will not shoot at police officers, but only crack dealers. I leave fire and death in my path.″
Prosecutors felt there were enough questions about Malone’s mental state that they could not seek the death penalty.
According to court records, Malone has been a heroin addict and had robbery charges dismissed in 1977 because he was ruled insane. In December 1983, he tried to hang himself in the county jail.
Despite a second insanity plea, in 1984 he was convicted of theft for stealing gloves from a department store and was sentenced to two years in prison.
Malone’s lawyers withdrew a plea of innocent by reason of insanity at the opening of the murder trial Monday and pleaded innocent. Attorney Robert Renshaw said later that three doctors had examined Malone and concluded he was sane at the time of the shooting.
Renshaw declined to make an opening statement to the jury of four men and eight women.
Assistant prosecutor John Slavens said in his opening argument that Malone had told arresting officers: ″This ain’t over yet. I’m going to get those ... drug dealers.″