Witness accused of trying to "taint" capital murder jury, collap - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Witness accused of trying to "taint" capital murder jury, collapses on stand

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TYLER (KYTX) - Capital murder defendant James Calvert took his ongoing courtroom shenanigans to new levels Thursday as he drew harsh rebukes from the judge during a hearing that ended with a woman collapsing on the witness stand.

Calvert has been defending himself after firing his court-appointed attorneys in a case that's rooted in accusations that he killed his then ex-wife on Halloween of 2012 and then went on the run to Louisiana with his young son.

Thursday's hearing began in a fairly straight-forward fashion with Calvert going toe to toe against the prosecution over motions filed in his attempt to gain a digital copy of all the evidence against him. Thus far he has been provided with paper copies of everything, per court order.

Assistant District Attorney April Sikes and District Attorney Matt Bingham argued that there was no functional difference between the paper and digital copies. They were successful in quashing a subpoena that would have required Sikes' legal assistant to undergo questioning from Calvert.

Ultimately Judge Jack Skeen, Jr. ruled that Calvert would have to make due with reviewing digital copies in the possession of his standby defense attorneys Jason Cassel and Jeff Haas.

Calvert also called Cassel to the stand--against Cassel's advice--in an attempt to prove the necessity of the digital copies. That line of questioning served more to anger Judge Skeen, who ended up lecturing Calvert on disciplinary options that extend beyond traditional contempt procedures after Calvert repeatedly objected with reasons that didn't always make sense.

Then prosecutors called a surprise witness named Cecilia Bush based on their assertion that she was caught in recorded jailhouse phone calls conspiring with Calvert to "taint the jury pool." Bush's time on the stand was marked by rambling and incoherent answers, claims of mental incapacity, frequent attempts to invoke her fifth amendment right against self-incrimination and, ultimately, a physical collapse.

As the hearing ended, Calvert was being led away in shackles by deputies when he turned to Judge Skeen and said "I hope you're happy now."

An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the individual Calvert subpoenaed for questioning as Ms. Sikes' legal council. In fact, Calvert sought to question a legal assistant responsible for some of the clerical tasks in this case. Ms. Sikes has no personal legal council in the Calvert matter.
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