Self-representing defendant to take the stand

He's been a thorn in the side of the Fresno County judicial system for more than a decade. Now Roger Hausmann, a 66-year-old repo man turned jailhouse lawyer, said Monday he will take the witness stand in his own defense.

That will be a tricky maneuver, however, considering Hausmann — accused of kidnapping two teenage girls last year — is acting as his own attorney.

Prosecutor Dennis Lewis said Hausmann has a couple options: He could simply give a statement or he could put together a list of questions and answer them on the stand.

Lewis said he once saw a defendant try the latter strategy in a Chicago courtroom.

"It was a disaster. It was silly," he said.

But when Hausmann was asked Monday by a Fresno County Superior Court judge if he will be a witness, he acted as if the question had an obvious answer.

"Will I testify on my own behalf?" he asked. "I certainly will. All I have to do is tell the truth."

Hausmann was dressed in a red jail suit with the word "prisoner" printed on the back. His ankles were shackled.

He constantly shuffled through documents that he pulled out of large plastic bags while the judge spoke to him about the upcoming trial, which will begin with jury selection on Wednesday.

James Yeager, an assistant at the downtown Fresno County jail law library, said Hausmann has spent two-plus hours every day rummaging through legal books and court cases at the library ever since he was arrested almost two years ago.

"He's quite a character," Yeager said.

Hausmann is accused of threatening and kidnapping two girls, ages 16 and 17, while driving them home one evening in January 2005.

The younger girl, who had just met Hausmann, became uncomfortable and demanded to be let out of the car, police said. Hausmann allegedly pulled into a cul-de-sac at Shaw Avenue and Angus Street and punched the girl in the face. He also threatened to kill the girls, police said. Both girls eventually escaped.

Hausmann has had a sketchy past, including a 2001 conviction for child abduction and a string of traffic and firearm violations.

In 1991, Fresno police investigated whether Hausmann was a serial killer after he beat a prostitute with a steam iron, leaving her for dead. The woman survived and told police that Hausmann said: "You're harder to kill than the other ones."

That crime, which landed Hausmann with a felony assault conviction, prompted police to form a task force to determine whether Hausmann was responsible for the slayings of 25 women, many of whom were prostitutes, between 1977 and 1990. The task force disbanded 10 weeks later after finding no evidence of a multiple killer.

But as recently as June, police said that Hausmann is still a "person of interest" in a number of unsolved Fresno homicides.

Hausmann said Monday that authorities have rushed to condemn him. He told the judge that he is a "Jewish Christian who just happens to have kids by a black woman."

Rick Barclay, a private investigator paid by the county to help Hausmann mount his defense, said Hausmann has a few kids, though he didn't know their names or ages.

Hausmann, a once successful car repossessor with more than a dozen aliases, is notorious for working the legal system.

While serving 29 months in jail in the early 1990s for assaulting the prostitute, he spent much of his time badgering the criminal justice system — and his own lawyers — about his case. He also helped other inmates fight their charges.

Lawyer Moton Holt, one of Hausmann's three attorneys at the time, told The Bee in 1993 that "we all took a collective sigh of relief" when Hausmann was released from jail.