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West Virginian found guilty on DUI counts

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Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

A West Virginia man who was ejected from his own trial for repeatedly declaring himself a “free person” and disrupting the proceedings was convicted Monday of driving under the influence and ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation.

Duane Philip McAtee, 42, of 87 Sammy Slay Lane, Metz, W.Va., told Fayette County Senior Judge Ralph Warman at the outset of his nonjury trial on Monday he wanted the charges dismissed and $20 million “in redemption” for his arrest on drunken-driving charges.

State police filed the charges when a trooper found McAtee urinating next to his pickup truck on Hardin Hollow Road in Georges on Dec. 19, 2010. Police said breath-alcohol tests showed McAtee had a blood-alcohol concentration of at least 0.119 percent. In Pennsylvania, a motorist is considered to be intoxicated at 0.08 percent.

McAtee tried unsuccessfully to fire his public defender and declared himself a “free person” and a “defendant in error.” He claimed neither the police nor the courts had authority to charge him or hold the trial.

“I do not understand, I overstand,” McAtee told Warman when asked if he understood his rights. “I waive the privileges and beneficiaries of the United States of America Incorporated.”

McAtee told the judge he did not “consent” to the trial or the proceedings, but remained in the courtroom. He repeatedly spoke over Warman, Assistant District Attorney Michelle Kelley and the public defender, Michael Garofalo, until Warman ejected him from the courtroom as the morning session ended.

McAtee was permitted to return to the courtroom for the afternoon session. He lodged fewer objections when Garofalo told him he could be held in contempt if he did not stop.

McAtee declined to put on a defense.

Warman found McAtee guilty of drunken driving and, over McAtee's objections, ordered that he undergo a mental health evaluation to determine competency prior to sentencing at 9:30 a.m. March 1.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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