In a murder defendant's first court appearance since he began representing himself, a Suffolk judge told him Tuesday to stop writing her letters and denied his request for more time to prepare for trial.
Last week, when Suffolk County Court Judge Barbara Kahn allowed Jonathan Thompson, 34, to represent himself, she warned him that he would be treated like any other lawyer. Nevertheless, Thompson wrote her a letter asking for a delay.
The Amityville man is accused of punching his girlfriend's 4-year-old son, Adonis Reed, when the boy wouldn't take a nap in January 2013, tearing his liver and causing other fatal injuries. Thompson, Held without bail, is charged with second-degree murder.
Thompson has written Kahn numerous letters as his trial approaches, and she has been sharing them with the prosecutor and Thompson's former attorney. But now that he is acting as his own lawyer, she said she'll return any further letters unopened.
In his last letter, Thompson asked for more time to research the case.
"We are long past the time for an adjournment request to conduct, in Mr. Thompson's words, 'an investigation of sorts' and to hold unspecified hearings," Kahn told Thompson in court. "The exercise of the right of self-representation is not intended to be a ploy to delay trial."
Jury selection in Riverhead will begin next week, she said.
Thompson then read a statement arguing that courts have held that defendants representing themselves must have proper access to materials and experts to prepare their defenses.
"What are you reading?" Kahn asked.
"These are my words, bunched up with law stuff," Thompson replied.
Kahn told him he's had and will continue to have access to law books, and promised she would consider any lawful subpoenas for experts that he prepares.
Thompson also asked Kahn to bar reporters from his trial. She denied that request.After a hearing on whether previous crimes and bad acts Thompson committed would be admissible, Thompson said that information would prejudice him at trial.
"I was very young when those crimes were committed," he said.
"Mr. Thompson, all the evidence in this case will prejudice you," Kahn said. "That's not the issue."
She ruled that if Thompson testifies, the prosecution will be allowed to question him about prior credit card fraud convictions. And when the prosecution plays Thompson's videotaped explanation of why he hit Adonis, in which Thompson said he was "smoking weed" at the time, Kahn said she will caution the jury that's not evidence of murder.