Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 01/26/06
BY KAREN SUDOL, FREEHOLD BUREAU
FREEHOLD — If he's allowed to represent himself at his murder trial, Rosario "Russell" Miraglia told a judge Wednesday he would present a "justifiable use of force" defense to charges that he killed his grandmother and ex-girlfriend in 2004.
He would not pursue an insanity defense, as his lawyers have urged him to do, because he is not delusional, he told Superior Court Judge Paul F. Chaiet during less than an hour of questioning by the judge to determine if Miraglia can represent himself at trial. The judge will announce his decision next month.
"Everyone assumes I'm delusional. It's all an assumption," Miraglia said.
Miraglia, 33, is charged with the murders of Julia Miraglia, 88, and Leigh Martinez, 31, on June 8, 2004, in Ocean Township. He decapitated both victims, then systematically severed their hands and feet, according to prosecutors. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Chaiet ruled in November that while he believed Miraglia suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, he was competent to stand trial. Miraglia's lawyers, Carl J. Herman and Joseph Krakora appealed the judge's decision, but the Appellate Division of Superior Court denied hearing the appeal. The attorneys are considering filing a motion of leave to appeal to the state Supreme Court, said Tom Rosenthal, spokesman for the Office of the Public Defender.
"Our position regarding this client is that we believe the client is delusional and not competent to stand trial. We don't believe anyone who is facing a possible death penalty sentence should represent himself," he said.
During Chaiet's questioning, Miraglia was asked if he was aware of any defenses he would raise at trial.
Miraglia responded, "Justifiable use of force."
When asked why he would use that defense, Miraglia responded, "What if that girl was . . . did cut a deal with the devil? What if my dreams and my visions and all of this is true and I'm not delusional? Let's say that was Satan's top dominion in the flesh and that Satan needed a parasite in the flesh."
The identity of the girl Miraglia referred to is unclear.
Miraglia continued to say: "She cut a deal with the devil to give birth to a dragon — something more superior to the human race. It would wipe us out. Regardless of all the drugs I did and regardless of how bad of an individual society says I am, technically, I saved mankind so it's a 'justifiable use of force' defense."
Miraglia has said in previous hearings that he is convinced God will intervene at his trial, providing him with 12 jurors who will acquit him.
During Wednesday's hearing, he said would testify at his trial if permitted to represent himself.
Miraglia said he understood the charges he faced as well as the penalties and the judge's advice that his trained lawyers would be better able to defend him than himself.
They say that a man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. Well, as Satan is My witness, he is that fool! Especially with all the evidence stacked against him, and the delusional claims. Perhaps he is seeking insanity as a defense.