NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) - An Easthampton man charged with killing his girlfriend will be allowed to represent himself at his murder trial despite a judge's misgivings.
Hampshire Superior Court Judge Daniel Ford on Tuesday said he would allow Ryan Welch to act as his own attorney, even though he has mental health issues and no legal experience.
"I think you're making a mistake," Ford said.
Welch, 37, is being held without bail after pleading not guilty to the February 2012 slaying of Jessica Ann Pripstein in her apartment. Pripstein, 39, died from "sharp-force injury" to her neck, according to the autopsy report.
Welch was also found in the apartment, bleeding from a self-inflicted neck wound. He told police he found Pripstein's body and was so distraught he tried to kill himself.
Welch told the judge he wanted to represent himself because he no longer has confidence in his court-appointed lawyer, Paul Rudof.
Rudof was pursuing a strategy of determining the level of Welch's criminal responsibility, and didn't intend to present evidence that someone else killed Pripstein, Welch said.
"I did not and could not have killed Jessica Pripstein," Welch said. "What concerns me, if this is something I didn't do at all, that needs to be my primary line of defense."
Welch said he had a history of mental health issues including post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. He said he is taking medication, but it does not cloud his thinking or judgment.
Prosecutor Jeremy Bucci said Welch's request to represent himself may be a delay tactic. But the judge did not change the scheduled Oct. 21 trial date.
"We stand ready for trial. The evidence hasn't changed," Bucci said.