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Inmate found guilty of having concealed weapon

February 04, 2002

Inmate found guilty of having concealed weapon



KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI
kimy@herald-mail.com


An inmate charged with hiding a seven-inch homemade knife in his pants lengthened his day in court Thursday by arguing to have his attorney removed, refusing to waive his right to a jury trial and later agreeing to have his case heard by a Washington County Circuit Judge.

On Sept. 12, 2001, Maryland Correctional Training Center officers searched Donald Matthew Duclos and alleged they found a double-edged "shank," a homemade knife, tucked into his waistband.

Duclos, who is serving a 20-year sentence for burglary, was charged with possessing a concealed weapon.

Duclos told Circuit Judge John McDowell that his case wasn't properly investigated and that potential witnesses need to be interviewed.

"I find my attorney (John Chillas) inadequate," said Duclos.

Duclos said that he wanted a postponement in order to do the necessary legwork for his case.

"I need to speak to them (other inmates) to see if they'll be witnesses. I gotta ask first because a lot are allergic to court," said Duclos.

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Duclos said he and his attorney argued about whether it would benefit him to have a jury know that he was searched at the prison because there had been a stabbing earlier that day.

"I wouldn't want a jury to know that," said Chillas.

"It's my life on the line," said Duclos.

After listening, McDowell advised Duclos of his rights and the benefits of having an attorney in court.

"I find no reason to discharge your council," said McDowell.

When asked if he wanted to respond, Duclos said "I guess the court ain't giving me no options."

Duclos was taken away and conferred with his attorney.

Shortly afterward, Duclos and Chillas again appeared before the judge and Chillas said his client wanted to waive his right to a jury trial.

When asked if he wanted to do so and understood the proceedings Duclos said, "No, I don't understand nuthin'."

As court officials scrambled to arrange a jury trial it was decided that the trial would have to be postponed because jurors were unavailable.

About an hour later, Duclos and Chillas appeared again before McDowell. This time Duclos agreed to Chillas' request that he waive his right to a jury trial and proceed with a trial before McDowell.

During Duclos' brief trial, Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Gina Cirincion presented the 7-inch handmade knife into evidence.

"It appears extremely dangerous," said McDowell, before finding him guilty of possession of a concealed weapon and imposing a one-year prison sentence.

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