Manchester man tried to claim immunity as a ‘sovereign citizen’
HARTFORD – A Manchester man who regularly disrupted his first-degree sexual assault trial was calm Friday morning as he learned he would be heading to prison for 20 years.
Donald Daniels, 27, was convicted in October of three counts of first-degree sexual assault for the gunpoint rape of a woman in East Hartford. Daniels had known the woman for about 10 years.
Jr. that he wanted to represent himself at the sentencing hearing and have his trial attorney, Jack Franckling, removed from his case.
The judge agreed, but kept Franckling on as standby counsel.
It quickly became clear on Friday why Daniels wanted to represent himself. He had filed motions arguing he was a “sovereign citizen” and therefore not subject to the jurisdiction of the court or of the law. He argued he was “a man, creature of nature and transient form.”
The judge told Daniels he’d read his motion and seen similar motions over the years. He then told Daniels he disagreed with him and intended to sentence him.
Daniels’ victim told the judge the rape had ruined her life, affected her mentally and caused her to lose two jobs. “I’m just ready for this to be over,” she said.
Prosecutor Anthony Bochicchio told the judge that Daniels is dangerous, his crime was serious and he did not think there was much chance of rehabilitating him. He said he thought Daniels’ disruptions during the trial were deliberate attempts to get a mistrial when he saw the trial was not going his way.
Daniels calmly told the judge that he was angry during his trial because his lawyer was not doing what he wanted him to do.
“I’m still going to maintain my innocence because I didn’t do it,” he said.
Daniels faced up to 20 years in prison for the convictions and D’Addabbo sentenced him to all 20.
“You have a lack of respect for other people, a lack of respect for the law,” the judge told Daniels, adding a primary concern was protecting society.
The judge called Daniels’ crimes heinous, depraved and demoralizing.
“You believe, in the court’s eye, you can obtain what you want, when you want and use any means to get it,” D’Addabbo said.
He then sentenced Daniels and ordered him to register as a sex offender upon his release.
Sovereign citizens are antigovernment extremists who believe that even though they physically live in the U.S., they are separate or “sovereign” from the United States, according to the FBI. They believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments or law enforcement.