A murder trial scheduled to begin today, Wednesday, has been postponed following a heated exchange in court at a hearing for the man accused of killing a woman last summer in an attack outside her Southampton home.
Patrick Henry Bush was adamant last week that “there won’t be a trial,” as he complained about delays and his defense lawyer. A judge disagreed with Bush, but the case’s prosecutor and public defender said Tuesday at the courthouse that Bush will undergo an evaluation to determine if he is competent to stand trial.
Last Thursday, the 51-year-old former Waldorf resident, charged with first-degree murder in the death of Cecelia Darlene Stubbs, argued that his day in court unlawfully had been delayed past its legal deadline, and that he also wanted to fire his public defender.
“I have a constitutional right to a speedy trial,” Bush said, saying he should have been tried within 180 days after he was detained in custody last July, and that 196 days had elapsed as of Thursday’s pretrial hearing.
St. Mary’s Circuit Judge Karen Abrams countered that the 180-day countdown began with an indictment issued in September, which brought the case from the county’s district court to circuit court, along with the legal representation for Bush handled by public defender Matthew Connell.
“Mr. Connell, you’re no longer my attorney,” Bush said as the lawyer stood next to him.
“Yes, he is,” Abrams said, while also acknowledging the “wonderful job” Bush had done of presenting his argument about his constitutional rights and the charges against him. “Too bad you didn’t become a lawyer,” the judge said, “instead of a criminal.”
Bush continued to insist that he was firing Connell, and wanted to postpone his trial. “It’s not going to start,” he said, “because I don’t have an attorney.”
As Bush began complaining about Connell’s handling of the case, Abrams repeatedly urged the public defender not to respond, but he ultimately did so.
“I’m not going to let him stand here and say things that are untrue,” Connell said.
Abrams declared a recess, called the public defender and a prosecutor into her chambers, and conducted a lengthy hearing in another case before Bush was escorted back into the courtroom. Bush continued his criticism of the defense lawyer.
“He’s filed no motions. He’s done nothing on my behalf,” Bush said, rejecting the court’s position that he could not discharge the lawyer. “So I can be found guilty of something I didn’t do?” he asked. “It’s my right to make my decision. It’s my life.”
Stubbs, a 50-year-old retired security contractor who later worked as a caretaker for elderly people, was described by authorities as a longtime acquaintance of Bush. She died on July 5 as she was being rushed to a hospital, after she was stabbed multiple times with a knife and was struck by her car, authorities allege, before Bush fled in the vehicle to Charles County, where he was taken into custody.
On Thursday, Abrams urged Bush to control his conduct during his trial.
“If you can’t behave yourself in the courtroom,” the judge said, “it will be [held] without you.”