Man accused of murdering Parlier coach wants to represent himself in court

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The moment everyone was waiting for--to hear from the defendant himself, never happened Tuesday. Instead of taking the stand, Joel Valera asked to judge to fire his public defender and take on the case on his own.

The unexpected move did not go over well with the victim's family.

"And when he keeps doing this it just feels like it's another something heavy on us again just something after another with him," said victim's goddaughter Sirena Torres.

"I think it just needs to come to an end and switching attorneys or whatever he needs to do needs to stop. And if anything, an apology would be great to the family," said victim's cousin Kaila Perez.

The judge said it is clear Valera does not agree with the strategy his attorney is using.

RELATED: Autopsy photos shown to jury in murder trial for Parlier coach shot and killed

But he said she is qualified and has represented him adequately. She also said his request was not timely at all, among other things.

"Also the court believes his additional reason is to prolong the matter going to the jury. The court believes that Mr. Valera sees the case is concluding and coming to an end and for whatever reason does not wish to have the case concluded," said Fresno County Superior Court Hon. Houry Sanderson

Artie Gomez died in his front yard packing up for a church camping trip four years ago.

He had no drugs or alcohol in his system and was a pillar in Parlier- coaching Pop Warner football for around 20 years.

RELATED: Undocumented immigrant on trial for murder of popular Parlier coach

His sense of humor and personality made him the center of the huddle and his family.

And the past years have been long and hard for loved ones. His absence is still felt- at home and at every football game that he's missing on the sidelines.

Valera was an undocumented immigrant who was deported in the 1990's for statutory rape and domestic violence.

When he returned to the U.S. he used an assumed name.

Earlier this week, his girlfriend of more than 10 years testified she knew him as Joseph Gutierrez and had never heard the name Joel Valera until he was arrested.
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