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Bend murder, arson suspect agrees to possible settlement talks with defense lawyer he’s sought to dismiss

(Update: Adding video, comments from DA Stephen Gunnels, Judge Randy Miller)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A Bend man accused of fatally stabbing a man last June and setting his townhome on fire was back in court on Monday, still seeking to dismiss his defense attorney and represent himself, but agreeing to talk with him further about a possible settlement conference.

Deschutes County Circuit Judge Randy Miller, assigned to the case of Thomas Jule Craig, held a hearing after fellow Judge Alison Emerson ruled recently that Craig, 35, is able to aid and assist in his own defense against charges in the killing of Glen Allan Ely, 53.

Craig, 35, is charged with second-degree murder and arson in the death early last June of Glen Allan Ely, 53, whose body was found by firefighters in his burning Daggett Lane townhome, where Craig was a houseguest.

Emerson ruled last week that Craig is able to aid and assist in his own defense after a psychological evaluation by the Oregon State Hospital.

After Craig failed a motion after that hearing to serve as his own counsel, Craig’s lawyer, Dylan Potter, filed a motion in recent days to withdraw from the case.

Miller noted Monday that some parties to the case “still have some concerns about his (Craig’s) fitness on this case” and the ability to move forward with him serving as his own attorney.

The judge asked attorneys to file memos detailing any such concerns, but in the meantime also asked Craig if he was willing to still work with Potter on settlement discussions regarding the second-degree murder and arson charges.

"That'll give you another chance to speak with Mr. Potter about your cases. And also whether you wish to file a motion to engage in settlement discussions. Does that make sense, Mr. Craig?" Miller asked.

“Yes, your honor,” Craig said by video hookup from the jail – which is all he said in court Monday, responding to a few questions by the judge.

Craig's motion to dismiss his attorney is pending, for now. Miller asked for filings with more details by Potter and prosecutors in coming weeks on how the cases might proceed. He set a follow-up hearing for May 1.

In a four-page handwritten letter from the Deschutes County Jail to the court last month, Craig made a variety of allegations and said he wished to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. He sent another letter from jail to the court in recent days.

District Attorney Stephen Gunnels agreed to speak with NewsChannel 21 on Monday not about the specifics of Craig's pending cases, but the issues related to defendants representing themselves, especially on serious criminal charges.

"Every week, there are criminal defendants who represent themselves, but generally not high level cases though," Gunnels said.

"The issue with someone representing themselves is, they may not know all the rules," Gunnels said. "They may not know all the laws that apply to their particular case. And somebody trained in the law can help them better than sometimes they can help themselves."

The DA says a defendant representing themselves in court might not know all the laws they can potentially use, "so they would have to make their own judgment on what questions to ask, and what evidence to submit to the court. And somebody without training in that is going to be at a real disadvantage."

"We do have really good criminal defense attorneys in Deschutes County," Gunnels said. "It's generally a bad idea for someone to represent themselves in court on a criminal case -- especially on a very serious case."

Craig said at the recent hearing before Judge Emerson that he'd given his court-appointed attorney, Potter, “three weeks to see eye to eye” with him, and claimed that Potter was “intimidating me, coercing me to do things I don’t want to do.”

Emerson asked Craig if he wanted to move forward with representing himself, rather than meet with any other lawyers, and he said that was correct.

No trial date has been set.

Article Topic Follows: Crime And Courts

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Blake Mayfield

Blake Mayfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.

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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.


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