HASTINGS, Minn. (KMSP) - He's going on trial for attempted murder, but doesn't want the help of a lawyer. The situation facing Tyler Christensen pops up from time to time, but what makes this trail different is his mom saying he mentally ill and should not be allowed to represent himself.
In June 2015 Christensen allegedly stabbed his mother in the neck during an argument in the family’s Apple Valley home.
"He just needs some help. I think he had a breakdown on that day," Tyler’s mom Kari Christensen said.
Court records show Christensen had two mental competency evaluations that he refused to cooperate with. Since, a judge not only found him competent to stand trial, but also to represent himself.
"Emotionally it’s hard not being able to talk to your son so it’s a daily struggle that way," said Kari.
For Kari the trial not only has the difficulty of watching her son fight for his freedom, but has to face him on the witness stand.
"It was hard because the questions were coming from him and not an attorney," she said
Kari says even though Tyler has a history of mental illness, depression and bi-polar disorder, along with a condition that makes it hard for him to process what he hears, the court not only found him competent to stand trial, but also to represent himself. Tyler was ordered to have an attorney on standby to answer any questions he may have about the legal process.
"It’s a person's absolute right. It’s not the judge’s fault. It’s no one's fault. The person who is of sound mind competent can say I don't want any professional help. I want to do the case myself. I think it’s ill-advised, but they have a right to do that," said criminal defense attorney Joe Tamburino who is not connected to the case.
Though her son is 23-years-old, Kari worries he's making a mistake about his ability to handle himself in a courtroom
"I think he's competent as a person but not competent to be in the courtroom representing himself with those serious of charges."