A West Philadelphia man accused of critically injuring Philadelphia Police Officer Jesse Hartnett two years ago with a burst of gunfire into the officer’s marked cruiser took aim at his court-appointed lawyers Monday during jury selection in his trial.
Before 60 prospective jurors were escorted into the third-floor courtroom at the Criminal Justice Center, defendant Edward Archer, 32, told Common Pleas Court Judge Leon W. Tucker that defense attorneys Trevan Borum and Michael Coard do not represent him.
Archer repeated the rebuke after the potential jurors had been seated, holding up a piece of paper that he said proved his competence, and shouting: “Just for the record, these two men do not represent me.”
When Borum asked one of the first potential jurors his impression of what Archer had said, the man replied, “You guys have a problem.” He was not selected to serve.
Borum told the judge that Archer’s statement showed he is not competent to stand trial. Tucker — who last month ruled that the defendant is competent despite the defense attorneys’ arguments that he suffers from schizophrenia and hears voices — told Archer that Borum and Coard would remain his attorneys.
Archer, who during an interrogation by detectives after his arrest professed allegiance to the Islamic State, is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, aggravated assault on a law-enforcement officer, and related gun possession offenses.
Borum complained that the high-profile nature of the case — video of the shooting went viral, prompting comment from politicians including Donald Trump — would make it difficult to pick a fair and impartial jury.
Borum also told the judge that Archer refused to change into the clothes that family members brought to court for him, and refused to cooperate with a mental-health expert for a court-ordered evaluation.
“We’re unable to launch an insanity defense in the state of Pennsylvania unless the person proffering that defense meets with a mental-health expert,” Borum said during the lunch break. “So it’s kind of ironic that Mr. Archer is so paranoid, he won’t meet with a mental-health expert, so we can’t raise the very defense we should be raising.”
Assistant District Attorney Allison Borgatti said her office believes Archer is competent to stand trial.
Jury selection will continue through Tuesday, followed by motion hearings during which Borum and Coard are expected to argue that their client’s police statement should be suppressed. Opening arguments by the defense team and prosecutors from the District Attorney’s Office are expected Thursday, Tucker said.
Hartnett, who survived the unprovoked attack on the night of Jan. 7, 2016, near 60th and Spruce Streets and managed to return fire, is scheduled to testify at the trial.