Jury selection is set to start today for Wisner Desmaret, who is charged with First Degree Murder in the killing of Fort Myers Police Officer Adam Jobbers-Miller in 2018. Jobbers-Miller was responding to a complaint, when he was allegedly tackled by Desmaret, who took his firearm and fatally shot him. The State is seeking the Death Penalty on the case. Desmaret fired his attorney, and will be representing himself at the trial. Desmaret has a documented mental health history — he’s had prior criminal cases in which he was found incompetent to stand trial, and subsequently received treatment. His competency has been evaluated in this case, but he has been found competent to stand trial.
It should be noted that competency, his ability to appreciate the charges and comport himself in court, is different from the defense of insanity. Insanity is a mental disease defect so extreme that at the time of the offense, the defendant could not understand what he was doing or could not understand that what he’s doing was wrong. It’s a difficult defense, as individuals are presumed innocent, and as an affirmative defense, the burden is on the Defense to prove the insanity by clear and convincing evidence.
While prior counsel filed a notice that they intended to use insanity as a defense, citing schizophrenia and abnormal brain scans, Desmaret may not use that defense now that he’s representing himself for the trial. At a pretrial conference last week, Desmaret in discussing the case raised some issues that he may argue at trial, and they were kind of all over the place. At one point he discussed a lack of certain DNA evidence, suggesting an identification defense, at other times talking about police violence, suggesting a justifiable use of force defense. Then he made some comments suggesting a conspiracy theory about them wanting to harvest his blood. It won’t be clear what he argues as his defense until the trial gets going, and with his addled brain, it may not become clear.
Jury selection is slated to start today. The trial should take several weeks, possibly two or three, but maybe several, depending on how things go.