Convicted felon to represent self in trial

Durand Lawson

A man facing trial on charges related to gun possession and fleeing police has chosen to represent himself in court.

A jury of 10 women and two men were chosen Wednesday to decide on the case of Durand Damion Lawson, 27, of North Lee Avenue, who was arrested after leading police on a Jan. 9, 2018, pursuit in the city of New Castle.

Lawson is a convicted felon. 

His case is being prosecuted by assistant district attorney Kiley Shevetz. Pittsburgh attorney Almon Burke has been appointed to serve as Lawson’s standby counsel, acting only in an advisory capacity. Shevetz and Lawson will present their opening arguments at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in the courtroom of Lawrence County Common Pleas President Judge Dominick Motto.

Lawson is accused as the driver of a car that police tried to pull over on East Washington Street. Officers pursued the car through the Lower East Side onto Whippo Street, where Lawson got out and ran through some yards and fell. He got up and ran into a house at 513 Whippo St., forcing open the door, according to a previous police report.

Police searched the house and Lawson emerged from upstairs after they threatened to release a dog inside, according to court papers.

Police found a loaded 9-millimeter high point semiautomatic handgun on the front seat of the car that they say Lawson was driving.

He is facing one count each of  felons not to possess firearms, carrying a gun without a license, fleeing and eluding police and a vehicle registration violation.

The police noted in filing the charges on Lawson that because his prior felony conviction involved gun and drug offenses, he is not allowed to possess a gun. They also noted that he does not have a license to carry a firearm.

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