BRATTLEBORO — A Vernon man who’s been in jail since a standoff at his home last September — and who previously told the court he changed his name to Christ — tried to argue that the court had no authority over him after he was asked by the judge about his psychological assessment.
“Christ,” asked Windham County Superior Court Judge Michael Kainen, “did you receive a copy of the competency evaluation?”
“Listen, you are not going to use legalese against me,” said Kristopher Knutson, 49. “You don’t have the jurisdiction to do it. You’ve been given ample opportunity to make an allegation. And you know why you’re not going to do it. So you do know full well what’s going on. You’re playing. You’re playing a dangerous game.”
Knutson appeared online Tuesday for a status conference from prison, where he’s been held on $50,000 bail since Sept. 7, after he was taken into custody following a five-day standoff.
The multiday standoff began in the late afternoon of Sept. 2, when deputies with the Windham County Sheriff’s Office went to Knutson’s Dunklee Drive home to confiscate his firearms, as was required in an abuse prevention order that was issued earlier that day.
Knutson refused to turn over his firearms, and the result was a Vermont State Police presence at his Vernon home for the next five days, until tear gas was used to flush him out on Sept. 7.
At the beginning of the hearing, the judge read the case as State v. Knutson, then corrected himself.
“You prefer to be called Christ, correct?” asked Kainen.
“It has nothing to do with preference,” responded Knutson, who refused to answer the judge’s questions.
“I have been in good faith with you,” said Knutson. “I have been doing everything that I can to try to get some information with regards to what you people are up to. But you’re not reciprocating. Isn’t that called bad faith?”
“This is a sham proceeding,” he said later.
At his bail hearing in early April, public defender Richard Ammons represented Knutson but on Tuesday, Knutson told the court he was seeking to represent himself.
Shortly after, Kainen asked the court clerk to mute Knutson to prevent him from interrupting the hearing.
“To satisfy the court that he was competent,” said Kainen, “the court ordered an updated competency evaluation. Mr. Knutson is not willing to talk about whether he received that evaluation.”
And while the law gives people the right of self-representation, said the judge, “a defendant who deliberately engages in obstructionist conduct forfeits his right to self representation. The court concludes, at least at this point, that Mr. Knutson has done that.”
Kainen ordered the Windham County Public Defender’s Office to continue to represent Knutson.
If Knutson wants to participate in a discussion of self representation, the judge said he was willing to schedule another hearing.
“I’m going to assume that this is a kangaroo court,” said Knutson during his April hearing. “And I’m going to assume that Satan is running [this], I don’t feel like I’ll ever get a fair trial ... I’m being denied due process. And I’m going to claim that I’m being held as a political prisoner.”
“Let the record reflect that defendant has stormed out of the room in the facility,” said Dana Nevins, deputy state’s attorney, at the end of Tuesday’s hearing.
“We will note that he left,” said Kainen.