If the circumstances were different, Terrell McCoy, who is accused of murder, might have done pretty well in law school, cramming the books and learning to be a defense attorney.
"My family always told me I had the mouth to be a lawyer," he told The Post and Courier during a break in his trial Thursday.
"I guess I had to go through something like this" — meaning handling his own murder case defense — "to become one."
McCoy's comments came as he sat alone at the defense table and the jury was out of the room. He wasn't modeling his methods after anyone special, he said.
"Just off the head, we all got gifts," he said of his legal abilities. "We can do anything we put our minds to."
He closed the exchange by asking, "You think I'm doing good?"
Both sides in the four-day-old trial rested Thursday, with McCoy calling eight witnesses in one day, mostly members of law enforcement. He queried them about their handling of the crime scene, something he has pressed as sloppy or incomplete.
The jury will hear closing arguments this morning and begin deliberating shortly afterward. McCoy told Circuit Judge Roger Young he would not be testifying in his own defense.
"You've done a commendable job of representing yourself," Young answered.
McCoy, 29, is accused of firing as many as four bullets into Antwan Bryant, 23, inside a North Charleston house nearly three years ago. The shots allegedly came after a scuffle broke out over bullets McCoy had wildly shot into the air moments before. He successfully fought to represent himself after his first trial resulted in a hung jury last year.
In court Thursday, McCoy continued his own defense, putting on rubber surgical gloves to hold evidence, citing rules of procedure and questioning investigators about the position of blood stains.
Often, though, he seemed unpolished and over eager to deliver his questions, repeatedly cutting off witnesses' answers in mid-sentence. During one examination, he fixated on the discrepancies in dispatch response times, entries as close as 5:48 a.m. and 5:49 a.m.
McCoy did score a victory at the end of the day when he objected to the prosecution's intent to introduce cell phone records of a phone that McCoy's girlfriend allegedly gave him. Ninth Circuit Assistant Solicitor Burns Wetmore wanted to show that the phone became active in Georgia, after Bryant was killed. McCoy's girlfriend testified that he had packed his bags and mentioned going to Atlanta, but before the murder took place.
Because the phone was registered in her name, not McCoy's, Judge Young said it could not be proven to have been in his possession as it traveled northwest.
McCoy called the girlfriend, Tonia Theus, as an alibi witness to establish that the two were inseparable. If McCoy were in town, he'd be with her, they said.
"Have I ever missed a night sleeping with you?" he asked her in front of the jury.
"Unless you go out of town," she answered. McCoy, who goes by the street name "Sleezie Boy," often traveled to sell his music CDs.
Wetmore, the prosecutor, stressed that Theus admitted not being with McCoy during the early morning hours that weekend, when Bryant was reported to have been shot.