JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In December 2016, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office announced that Russell Tillis was being charged with the murder of 31-year-old Joni Gunter. He said in court on Monday that he wants to represent himself in the murder trial.
He said he is displeased with the counsel that has been provided for him.
Tillis was in jail for an aggravated battery charge when the murder charge and related charges came down. Police said back in December that Tillis had admitted that he murdered Gunter to another inmate and the inmate had called police. They found her dismembered body on a property owned by Tillis.
JSO Chief Scott Dingy said Tillis targeted transient white female women like Gunter and they believe there are other victims in a press conference in December.
Tillis says now that he wants to waive his right to counsel because he believes this case is way too serious to have a counsel who he believes is withholding information from him.
According to Tillis, his counsel scheduled all 15 depositions, which have already occurred, without his knowledge. Additionally, Tillis says that he feels his representation is not listening to him.
However, the judge says that there has to be reasonable cause for counsel to be dismissed and that Tillis' representation is doing exactly what he needs to do.
The judge took the time to tell Tillis that waiving the right to counsel is almost always a bad idea.
There will be another pretrial hearing on Tuesday, June 27 and the issue of Tillis representing himself will be spoken about again.
Authorities are also digging on a property that Tillis owns. It is expected they will be done on Wednesday.
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