'This is not a fair hearing': Life inmate muted via Zoom during resentencing for disrupting judge

Christopher Charles Lightsey cupped his hands around his mouth and screamed into the camera while he was muted on Zoom during his court hearing Friday in Kern County Superior Court where he petitioned to be resentenced as he currently serves life in prison for a 1993 murder.

Before he was muted by Judge John Lua — in order to carry on with the court proceeding — Lightsey waved documents on the video call and said “this is not a fair hearing.”

At Friday’s resentencing hearing, Lightsey, now in his 70s, called in from San Quentin State Prison from what appeared to be a glass box with a small window. He is serving a life sentence for the murder of William Compton, an elderly cancer patient. Lightsey was convicted of stabbing Compton 42 times and stealing his gun collection, a jar of coins and other items.

Lightsey was also considered as a suspect in the death of 4-year-old Jessica Martinez in 1990. However, the Kern County District Attorney’s Office did not find enough evidence to charge Lightsey.

Lua warned Lightsey on Friday that if he continued to interrupt the judge, he would have to mute him via Zoom. While Lightsey continued to talk over Lua, flashing documents at the camera through a hole in the window he sat behind, Lua said he had to mute him in order to hear Lightsey’s attorney.

This is not the first time Lightsey has had outbursts in court. Lightsey has been removed from court before for his outbursts and during his sentencing in 1995, he was physically gagged.

The saga of court hearings for Lightsey that has lasted almost 30 years, which included his jury trial and competency hearing, is slated to continue after the resentencing was postponed.

His current attorney, Los-Angeles based defense attorney Steve Meister, appeared in court Friday and requested a status conference for August. Meister said to The Californian Friday after the hearing that he requested central files from prison. In court, Meister said Lightsey has not authorized him to get those records.

Meister said he has been representing Lightsey for a few months. Lightsey has been represented by different defense attorneys since 1994 and briefly represented himself during his competency hearing. However, the California Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that a Kern County judge violated a state law by allowing Lightsey to represent himself during a competency hearing.

Lightsey’s next hearing in court is scheduled for August 9 for a status conference and Meister said Lightsey does not have to be physically present.