Wakeen Best, a woman convicted of killing a chihuahua during a car burglary, has had her conviction reversed. An appellate court in California has allowed Best to have a retrial. The reasoning, however, is a tad bizarre. In her original case, Best wanted to represent herself before the jury. Rather than allow her to do so, the judge in her case denied this, telling her she had to have a lawyer.
Throughout the trial, Best was prone to outbursts and interruptions. She frequently cursed at the judge and called him an “idiot” during official proceedings. The appeals court that allowed her a retrial noted in their opinion that Best “was unlikely to be effective in conducting her own defense” but that she was still entitled to defend herself.
Court Notes Success Unlikely
In their official ruling, the appellate court noted that Best would be unlikely to succeed in a court case if she represented herself. “We recognize that she did not understand such concepts as specific intent and general intent, but her ignorance of legal procedure and language is not a basis to deny her the right to self-representation,” wrote the court in an official opinion.
The appellate court ruled 2-1 in favor of tossing the original court case. In the dissenting opinion, Justice Tracie Brown noted that Judge Charles Compton was correct in his original ruling. Brown pointed out that Best was frequently engaging in outbursts during the trial. As such, she would have been unable to adequately represent herself.
Bizarre and Violent Case
Best’s case was particularly noteworthy in 2018 when the proceedings were ongoing. The prosecution alleged that she threw a four-year-old chihuahua named Dunky from a parking garage. According to the prosecution, Best was burglarizing a Mercedes in the parking garage. It is likely that Dunky barked at her from within.
Audio collected from within the parking garage includes Best’s voice telling someone to shut up. The prosecution insisted this was her speaking to Dunky. The vehicle’s owner returned to the parking garage and saw their dog dead on the ground. Initially, the owner believed Dunky must have gotten out of the vehicle and fallen from the garage while trying to run or play.
Upon reaching their vehicle, however, the owner saw a trail of blood from the car to the edge of the parking garage. Their vehicle was plainly burglarized. It wasn’t difficult to piece together what had happened from there.