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NZ Mass Shooting Suspect 'Doesn't Want a Lawyer'

Homes of Tarrant's mother, sister searched
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2019 6:41 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Australian man accused of massacring 50 people in two New Zealand mosques has decided to represent himself, according to the duty lawyer he was assigned after his arrest. Richard Peters, the New Zealand system's equivalent of a public defender, tells the New Zealand Herald that Brenton Tarrant seemed "quite clear and lucid" and didn't seem to be facing any "mental impairment" apart from his "fairly extreme views." Tarrant's decision to represent himself raises fears that he will use his trial to promote white supremacist views, though Peters notes that it will be the job of the judge to deal with grandstanding in court, and the judge "isn't going to be very sympathetic to him" if Tarrant tries it. More:

  • The investigation. Police have searched the homes of Tarrant's mother and sister in eastern Australia looking for anything that could help New Zealand investigators, the AP reports. Mother Sharon Tarrant and sister Lauren Tarrant, who are believed to be in protective custody, did not speak to the media. Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Tarrant, who grew up in the town of Grafton, has only spent 45 days in Australia over the last three years.

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  • Terror charges might be skipped. Former New Zealand prosecutor Ross Burns tells the Sydney Morning Herald that to keep the trial short, authorities might simply charge Tarrant with murder instead of trying to prosecute him under the country's little-used terror laws. While there is clearly a strong case for terror charges, it would lengthen the trial, and "to minimize the impact on victims, straight murder is easier to prove," Burns says. "And there's less scope to use a platform to espouse his ideological reasons." Tarrant has already been charged with one count of murder.
  • New gun laws "within 10 days." New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who had been expected to unveil tougher firearms laws including a ban on semi-automatic weapons, said Monday that changes had been worked on "in principle," but working out details would probably take the rest of the week, the Guardian reports. "Within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism we will have announced reforms which will, I believe, make our community safer," she said.
  • More gun moves. TradeMe, the country's biggest online auction site, has already banned the sale of semi-automatic weapons and related accessories. Some New Zealand gun owners have already decided to surrender their weapons to authorities, though gun stores have been busy since the massacre with people stockpiling weapons ahead of an expected ban.

  • "Most targeted person" in prison. Tarrant is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison, though the rest of his life may not be very long if members of gangs like the "Mongrel Mob" get their hands on him. "He would be in extreme danger," says criminologist Greg Newbold. "There will be people in prison who will be pretty angry about it, particularly the fact that he's a white supremacist." "We've got friends inside, too," a gang member tells the Herald.
  • Victims identified. Authorities haven't publicly released the list of all 50 victims, but those named so far include people from Fiji, Pakistan, India, and Somalia, the BBC reports. The youngest victim named so far is 3-year-old Mucad Ibrahim. The boy, described by brother Abdi as happy, energetic, and playful, reportedly ran toward the gunman.
  • Day of mourning. Ardern said Monday that there will be a national day of mourning after the worst mass shooting in the country's history, but she wants to give families space to grieve and bury their loved ones first, Newshub reports. "I want to create the space for families to be able to mourn their lost loved ones," she said. "That will obviously be happening over the course of this week."
(Read more New Zealand mosque shootings stories.)

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