BLOOMINGTON — A 22-year-old Bloomington man is confident he is ready to serve as his own lawyer at a May 13 bench trial on nine counts of first-degree murder.
Sydney Mays Jr. confirmed Friday to Judge Casey Costigan that he does not want a lawyer appointed to assist him. He is accused of shooting Nate Pena and Corey Jackson, both 22, and Juan Carlos Perez, 33, at an apartment on Riley Drive. Pena’s young son was wounded in the June 18 incident.
In December, Mays dismissed his appointed lawyers and said he would handle his own defense. The judge asked him at that time and at hearings since then if he understood the nature of the murder charges and the consequences if he is convicted.
The possible penalties are "quite severe, including potentially life in prison," Costigan reminded Mays at Friday's hearing. Mays again declined the judge's offer to have a lawyer represent him.
Public defenders Carla Barnes and Brian McEldowney were in the courtroom as appointed stand-by counsel, but did not participate in the hearing. Their role at the bench trial will be limited to answering legal questions from Mays. He will be responsible for questioning witnesses and developing his own trial strategy.
Assistant State's Attorney John Shim said the state is ready.
Mays spent about four months in a Milwaukee jail last year awaiting extradition on the McLean County murder charges. He was arrested in Wisconsin on drug charges and challenged his return to Illinois.