Accused of attacking his lawyers, defendant acts as own attorney

EVERETT — Joshua Monson asked jurors to keep an open mind.

Everything the prosecutor and cops say make him sound really guilty, Monson said.

“There’s another side to the story and I’ll get to that,” he said.

Monson gave brief opening statements in his drug possession trial Wednesday while strapped to a chair and flanked by two Snohomish County corrections officers.

A judge on Tuesday had ordered Monson to be restrained during the rest of the trial after he allegedly attacked his third attorney. Snohomish County Superior Court Judge David Kurtz also ruled that Monson gave up his right to try out a fourth lawyer.

Monson was mostly on his own Wednesday.

A defense attorney brought in special from King County was allowed to sit behind Monson and offer an occasional word of advice.

Monson cross-examined witnesses, questioned police procedures and scientific testing and objected once to a witness being recalled to the stand.

Before the lunch break Monson told the judge he planned to testify.

He seemed to have a change of heart after consulting with his standby attorney. He changed his mind again after Kurtz explained what evidence jurors would consider. Opening statements and closing arguments aren’t evidence, the judge explained.

“I’m going to testify. What the hell. Excuse me,” Monson said.

He told jurors that crystal-like substance that an Arlington police officer saw in his hand wasn’t methamphetamine.

It was rock salt, Monson said. He and some buddies had been drinking and they gave him a baggie with rock salt inside.

“The bag was mine, but it wasn’t dope,” Monson said.

He doesn’t usually carry rock salt in his pocket, he said during cross examination. He doesn’t know why his buddies gave him the baggie. He doesn’t recall telling the arresting officer that he bought the meth off a guy in Arlington.

Yes, he does have criminal history, Monson admitted after the prosecutor listed his previous convictions for forgery, theft and other property crimes.

Monson later thanked the jury members for their patience and reminded them that his version of events differed greatly from the police’s.

“I’m sure it sounds kind of far-fetched, but that’s what happened,” he said.

Jury deliberations are scheduled to begin today.

Monson’s legal troubles are far from over.

Prosecutors have charged him with second-degree murder charge connected to a Jan. 2 shooting in a south Everett apartment. Trial in that case is scheduled to start early in 2012. He also is facing multiple assault charges for allegedly attacking two other attorneys and allegedly head-butting corrections officers at the jail.

Monson also could face charges for Tuesday’s alleged attack.

During that incident he allegedly grabbed a pen and stabbed his third attorney, Jess Cantor, in the side of the head.

Cantor was not seriously injured, but he was unable to continue to represent Monson because the lawyer is the victim in that assault investigation. The incident happened as jurors were listening to a prosecutor’s opening statements.

In May, Monson’s trial was delayed after he allegedly stabbed his first lawyer in the neck with a pencil, then allegedly repeated the stunt a few days later with another lawyer who been assigned to represent him.

Reporter Rikki King contributed to this story.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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