Convicted murderer James Hawkins Jr., facing the death penalty for the 1984 murder and robbery of two drug dealers, testified in his own defense Thursday over the strenuous objections of his lawyers.
During a brief appearance on the witness stand, Hawkins described his childhood in the poor neighborhoods of South-Central Los Angeles and touched on the circumstances surrounding an early arrest.
Barry Lee Levin, one of his defense attorneys, had strongly objected to Hawkins taking the stand. Outside the presence of the jury, Levin argued that what Hawkins hoped to say in his defense might actually hurt his case.
But Superior Court Judge Marsha N. Revel ruled that a defendant has the right to testify on his own behalf, even over the objections of his lawyer. The case is scheduled to resume Monday.
The son of a prominent Watts businessman, Hawkins, 43, was convicted Aug. 13.