He doesn’t want an attorney. He doesn’t want to be in jail. And he didn’t do it.
What he does want, however, is to tell his side of the story, which is why, late Wednesday, Erath County Jail inmate Jimmy Powell instructed his court-appointed attorney, Nick Pugh, to contact the press.
“Typically, I would not advise any criminal defendant to speak to the press while their case is pending,” Pugh said. “But I acknowledge he has a constitutional right to do so.”
On Thursday, Powell, wearing a black and white striped jail uniform, sat down for a jailhouse interview - ignoring the advice of his attorney. Powell, 21, is in jail for allegedly stealing six rifles from his grandparents’ home. Shortly after he was incarcerated, jail officials filed additional charges against him after he allegedly spit on and attacked two jailers in two separate incidents.
Now, Powell said he simply wants to tell his side of the story — one that involves a series of misunderstandings and a vast conspiracy theory to frame him. He’s also decided that he no longer wants any legal representation and will defend himself in court.
“I figure I can defend myself just as good as any attorney,” Powell said. “I studied law for one year in Weatherford and I should know enough. I’m also a man of God and I believe God will be by my side.”
Another thing Powell said he’s got going for him is the truth.
Powell claims he did not steal the guns from his grandparents’ home, but knows who did, saying it was a dangerous, convicted felon.
“I did not steal those guns from my grandparents,” he said. “I’m scared of guns - they kill people.”
He also said he was wrongly convicted on two previous charges involving a DWI and drug possession. He said his family on his mother’s side is trying to frame him for the burglary because he was trying to turn them in to authorities for using drugs.
And that little scuffle between him and the jailers? Powell said he did not attack anyone, and was simply defending himself against a jailer who tried to kiss him.
“He tried to kiss me and I head-butted him,” he said. “So he pushed me down and tried to break my am.”
Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant scoffed at Powell’s allegation, calling it “absurd” and “absolutely false.”
“We’re tired of dealing with him,” Bryant said. “He spits on the jailers, attacks the jailers and causes problems. He’s a constant pest.”
Powell said he is taking no medications and has never been diagnosed with any psychiatric problems. He said he just wants the chance to represent himself in court, get out of jail and back to work as a trim carpenter.
He also wants to take a couple of paternity tests, to determine exactly how many children he actually has.
“I know I have one (child) for sure,” he said. “But I need to take a paternity test to find out if I have two others. They’re all by different women.”
Meanwhile, Powell is living in solitary confinement, with no TV or commissary or visitation privileges. And if a judge agrees, he may soon be without an attorney.
“Basically, I have a sheet and a blanket,” he said. “They told me to just sit and stare at the wall all day - and that’s all I can do.”
Which means he will have plenty of time to prepare for court.
SARA VANDEN BERGE covers courts, law enforcement, and business and political issues for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her work number is 968-2379, ext. 240.