Accused killer of sex offenders to represent himself at trial

Accused killer of sex offenders to represent himself at trial
Patrick B. Drum appears at his arraignment in Clallam County Superior Court, where he tried to plead guilty before Judge Ken Williams. (Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
PORT ANGELES, Wash. - A Sequim man accused of killing two registered sex offenders last month will be allowed to represent himself at his August trial, a Clallam County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday.

Patrick B. Drum, 34, is charged with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the deaths of Jerry W. Ray, 56, and Gary L. Blanton Jr., 28.

Drum, a convicted felon who allegedly told authorities he was targeting sex offenders, also is charged with first-degree burglary and unlawful possession of a firearm.

“I stood up for a belief, and the attorneys don’t have the same belief that I do,” said Drum after Judge Ken Williams asked him why he did not want a court-appointed attorney.

“I would rather just speak for myself.”

Blanton and Ray were shot multiple times, authorities said.

The two men’s bodies were found June 3 inside their homes in Port Angeles and Sequim.

Before granting Drum’s request to be his own lawyer, Williams asked him a series of questions.

“Do you understand the possible penalties for (the charges) would include life in prison without possibility of parole, or if the state should opt to ask for a jury to determine if you should be executed?” Williams asked.

“Yes,” Drum replied.

Drum said he has represented himself on appeals and motions on burglary charges and in a civil action.

He said he has a seventh-grade education but earned his General Educational Development - or GED - certificate “without studying one day” and has taken college courses.

If he calls himself to the witness stand, Drum would have to ask himself questions rather than simply make a statement, Williams said.

Should Drum decide he needs an attorney, the court will have the discretion to appoint one.

Williams appointed Ronald Ness and Karen Unger as Drum’s stand-by counsel.

At his June 13 arraignment, Williams said that under state statute, Drum was not allowed to enter a guilty plea as he attempted to do.

Drum then pleaded not guilty.

The trial is set to begin Aug. 6. A status hearing is scheduled for July 13.

“I believe that he clearly understands the nature of the charges and that the potential consequences of a guilty plea could be up to and including a sentence of death,” Williams said Thursday.

“I believe that he understands that he will be required to follow the rules of the court.

“I believe that his decision is voluntary,” Williams added.

“I think under the law as it applies, I am not entitled to make a decision as to whether or not that his request to represent himself is wise or not, but only whether I think it is voluntary and made by someone who is competent to least understand the risks involved in making that decision.”

Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Deb Kelly has until July 13 to decide whether to seek the death penalty.

The alternative would be to seek life in prison.

Kelly on Thursday withdrew her request for a competency evaluation for Drum.

“I personally have no information to suggest that Mr. Drum is incompetent,” Kelly said.

“Mr. Drum has been articulate. He’s filed a number of his own motions.

“There is nothing to suggest to me at this point that he is not competent.”

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