Kidnap and murder defendant Kirell Taylor testified Monday that he did not rob or kill a Woodland Hills businessman in 1999 and that the evidence against him had been fabricated.
"My defense revolves around my being framed by the Los Angeles Police Department," Taylor said in Van Nuys Superior Court.
The 26-year-old Pacoima man, who is representing himself, also accused the prosecutor of "trickery" and at one point began shouting at Superior Court Judge Michael Hoff after the judge repeatedly ruled against him.
"Do we want a mistrial?" Taylor asked Hoff outside the presence of jurors. "You know I have a reputation for suing judges, right?"
As three armed bailiffs surrounded Taylor, Hoff quietly replied that if Taylor continued being disruptive and tried to cause a mistrial, he would no longer be allowed to act as his own lawyer.
Taylor is accused of kidnapping, robbery and first-degree murder in the death of 30-year-old Christopher Rawlings. As Rawlings was driving home in his white Bentley the night of Feb. 8, 1999, he was attacked and robbed by two masked men. They forced Rawlings into the trunk of his car and drove away.
The kidnappers were chased by police, and the Bentley crashed into a tree, throwing Rawlings from the trunk into a brick wall. Rawlings died two days later.
A second suspect, Boris Graham, has also been charged in the case but remains at large.
If Taylor is convicted, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. On Monday, Taylor told jurors, "I'll be out regardless of your verdict."
Taylor told jurors he taught himself how to read when he was 17 while in Juvenile Hall, and in the nine years since has read more than 1,000 books, including the Koran. He also said he has read an entire dictionary and studied law while incarcerated for an earlier crime.
Taylor, a convicted robber, was on parole at the time of his arrest in the Rawlings case.
"I went through, like, five attorneys, but no one's trying to hear me," Taylor said, explaining his decision to represent himself.
Earlier in the trial, Deputy Dist. Atty. Shellie Samuels said Taylor's DNA matched a sample taken from a ski mask found at the crime scene, and that police found jewelry taken from Rawlings' home in Taylor's bedroom.
On Monday, Taylor said that the DNA evidence had been planted, and that the jewelry could not have been found at his home.
If there had been any evidence of a crime, Taylor said, someone close to him would have destroyed the evidence for him. He told Samuels that had he known her mother, he would have "deceived her" into picking up the jewelry and disposing of it for him.
"Please keep my mother out of this!" Samuels fired back.
Taylor traded more barbs with the prosecutor, who frequently objected, saying she could not understand Taylor's statements and questions.
When Samuels cross-examined Taylor, the defendant rolled his eyes and called the prosecutor "incomprehensible," using the word Samuels had earlier used to describe Taylor.
"I'm not understanding your question. Can you break it up some?" Taylor said.
Samuels held up a police composite of one of the suspects, drawn after interviews with three witnesses, and told jurors the picture looked like Taylor. Taylor shrugged, saying, "I don't know what's going on in the trickery of your case."