Marion County inmate dismisses lawyer, proceeds under own representation

SALEM — A 24-year-old Centralia man awaiting trial on three felony burglary charges pleaded not guilty today in Marion County court to a separate charge of bringing a controlled substance into the jail.

T.J. Robert Chumley dismissed his public defender this afternoon on both cases, and decided to represent himself. After Judge Mark Stedelin admonished him on the move, Chumley proceeded under his own representation to plead not guilty to the newer felony charge and to demand a jury trial.

Stedelin scheduled a tentative trial date of March 16 for both the 2014 burglary and controlled substance cases.

Chumley was charged earlier this month with the controlled substance case, after corrections deputies at the Marion County jail allegedly found a shank in his cell that had been made from the handle of a dustpan.

Marion County Sheriff Rich Stevenson says they were tipped off to the presence of the shank by another inmate, 28-year-old Cedric Powe, who is awaiting trial charges of attempted murder, aggravated battery and aggravated domestic battery following the savage beating of his girlfriend in December 2013 that left her partially blind.

Stevenson says surveillance video shows Powe breaking the handle off the dustpan and hiding it in his jumpsuit.

A further search revealed a Risperidone pill hidden in a straw extension that had been placed on the end of the pencil.

He says Risperidone, which is used to treat schizophrenia and certain problems caused by bipolar disorder, was not prescribed to anyone in that cell.

Both men were charged in connection to the hidden pill, and Powe was additionally charged with criminal damage to government property. His hearing on those charges was continued until tomorrow, when his attorney could be present.