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Accused capital murderer to defend himself

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TYLER (KYTX) -

James Calvert will be back in front of a Smith County Judge Thursday. For the first time the capital murder defendant will be defending himself--with no help from any lawyers.

It's been a year and a half since Calvert was originally accused of killing his ex-wife and kidnapping his young son.

As the months have gone by, his capital murder trial has turned into its own complicated saga.

Last week he went up against a very skeptical Judge Jack Skeen Junior and had to convince him he has at least some of the skill necessary to fight--alone--the toughest possible legal battle.

"It is obvious that there are severe consequences to an individual charged with capital murder," seen said during the hearing. "You understand that?"

"When the state seeks to take a life of one of its citizens, it doesn't get any more serious than that," Tyler defense attorney Bobby Mims said. "So yeah, there's a lot on the line. For both sides,"

Mims has been trying capital murder cases since 1989.

"I don't believe that I've even heard of it happening before," he said.

He's also the president of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.

Mims said Calvert was provided with two of the most skilled capital murder defenders possible. The question is, can Calvert do everything they would have done?

"The rules of evidence, the procedures. We don't just get to present what we want to," Mims said. "You can't just tell your side of the story."

Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham said there really was no stopping Calvert's decision.

"there's no issue in this case that he doesn't understand what he's doing," Bingham said.  "he's very intelligent."

Bingham said it won't affect the way he tries the case.  Mims said he believes there's no way Calvert can be ready in time.

"even the best trained lawyers, the best most experienced lawyers go into court every day scared to death about death penalty cases," Mims said.

Calvert's hearing Thursday is the last one he has scheduled. His trial could be scheduled soon now that the question of his representation appears to be resolved.

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