NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A man charged in the 2002 dismemberment slayings of a teenage couple in East Tennessee must defend himself in the death penalty case.

The Tennessee Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the appeal of a ruling that Howard Hawk Willis forfeited his right to counsel after he repeatedly sued his court-appointed attorneys, forcing one after another to withdraw.

In the July ruling, the state Court of Criminal Appeals at Knoxville wrote that Willis is mentally competent and his acts were a deliberate attempt to delay trial.

Willis is charged in the killings of Adam Chrismer and Samantha Leming, both of Chickamauga, Ga. The boy's head was found in Boone Lake and his hands were nearby. The girl's remains were found in a Johnson City rental storage unit.

 

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