Murder suspect represents himself in court - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Murder suspect represents himself in court

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Reporter: Chuck Weber

UPDATED: It was a confusing day in court Tuesday: An 81-year-old accused killer began defending himself - acting as his own lawyer.

Fox 29 shows you the confrontations with the witnesses and the judge.

Whether questioning the adult witnesses or the teenagers, Marc Benayer repeatedly confronts the answers he hears. "I cannot say it. I'm not native to use that word. I never say that because I don't know how to use it."

Tuesday's witnesses were at Rosh Hashanah services two years ago at Chabad Weltman Synagogue in West Boca Raton. Prosecutors say Benayer opened fire hitting Jonathan Samuels who died 10 months later.

As Benayer defends himself, Judge Richard Wennet gave Benayer polite but firm reminders. "Mr. Benayer, do you remember, I had asked you not to interrupt the witness during her answer?"

Benayer responds, "Yes, I do."

Judge continues, "You keep doing that. I want you to think about this and be extra careful to let her completely finish her answer and not to interrupt.

Prosecutors will try to show Benayer was upset at the victim Samuels and Samuels' business partner for helping Benayer's ex-girlfriend.

Benayer is also accused of trying to hire an undercover sheriff's agent to kill the business partner and Benayer's former defense attorney.

Reporter: Stephanie Gailhard

PREVIOUSLY: Jury selection begins Monday morning in the trial of an 81-year-old man accused of shooting a man outside a Boca Raton synagogue. In this murder case the defendant himself will be questioning potential jurors.

Mark Benayer is not a lawyer, but he is taking on the role of one in court. He will interview roughly 100 prospective jurors. And he will deliver the defense's opening argument.

Benayer is charged with first-degree murder; he is accused of shooting Jonathan Samuels two years ago during Rosh Hashana services at a synagogue near Boca Raton.

Samuels and his business partner employed Benayer's girlfriend. Both, apparently, instructed her on how to break up with him.

A Palm Beach County judge ruled in October the 81 year old could represent himself in the trial after shooting down his first request a month before.

While in jail, police also charged Benayer with trying to hire a hit man to kill his former defense attorney. The hit man tuned out to be an undercover sheriff's deputy.

Throughout the trial, a court appointed lawyer will sit with Benayer and help out.

The trial is expected to take two weeks or longer.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday at the Palm Beach County courthouse.

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