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W.Va. man raises commotion during DUI sentencing in Fayette County courtroom

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Saturday, March 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

A West Virginia man raised a commotion in a Fayette County courtroom on Friday, forcing security personnel to stop him from leaving at one point.

Duane Philip McAtee, 43, of Metz refused to let a county assistant public defender represent him during his sentencing on a drunken-driving charge.

McAtee, who claims neither police nor the courts have authority to charge him, refused to answer questions from Senior Judge Ralph Warman.

“I do not consent,” McAtee said several times to Warman.

Deputies escorted another, unidentified man from the courtroom after he began to speak out loudly in McAtee's defense.

Deputies confiscated and then returned a phone to a third man who started to record the proceedings. Pennsylvania prohibits filming in courtrooms of criminal cases.

Warman sentenced McAtee, whom he convicted of driving under the influence during a nonjury trial in January, to serve a minimum 48 hours to a maximum six months in prison.

“I've shown you more respect today by giving you the minimum sentence than you have at any time shown this court,” Warman told McAtee.

He ordered McAtee to be removed immediately to begin serving his sentence.

McAtee also raised a ruckus during his trial, declaring himself a “free person,” and was ejected by Warman. He was allowed to return later in the day.

On Friday, as soon as Public Defender Mary Campbell Spegar sat next to him at the defense table, McAtee objected to her representing him.

After Warman entered the courtroom, Spegar asked if she could approach the bench. McAtee then walked up to Warman and began objecting to Spegar's representation.

“You are not representing me. Do I make myself clear?” he said, adding that he would not represent himself.

Warman asked McAtee a series of questions, which he refused to answer.

“I gave the opportunity ... as to your desire not to have counsel, and you wouldn't respond to me,” Warman said.

McAtee refused to talk to county probation officers as they prepared a background report about him before sentencing, and he wouldn't undergo a mental-health evaluation, Warman noted.

The judge continued sentencing McAtee over his objections.

“I do not consent to any of this,” McAtee said, adding, “No one got hurt. There was no injury.”

McAtee's blood-alcohol content was 0.119 percent, over the 0.08 percent threshold at which a motorist can be considered intoxicated, when state police said they saw him urinating next to his pickup on Hardin Hollow Road in Georges on Dec. 19, 2010.

As Warman continued with the sentencing, McAtee attempted to leave the courtroom, forcing the court staff to intervene.

“You cannot ... arrest me,” he said. “I do not give you permission to touch me.”

Deputies returned him to his chair.

Warman then finished with the sentence.

In addition to the 48 hours in jail, McAtee will lose his license for 12 months and have other sentencing terms customary for a sentence of driving under the influence.

“It's all under duress,” McAtee said as he was handcuffed by deputies and led away.

Authorities do not plan to file charges in connection with the courtroom antics, said county Chief Detective James Caccimelio, who was in the courtroom for the sentencing.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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