Butler County judge rejects accused killer’s attempt to represent himself

Toby Madden says he feels ‘compelled’ to represent himself, judge won’t approve waiver.

Toby Madden signed a waiver to represent himself at his upcoming murder trial, but a Butler County judge would not sign off when the defendant repeatedly said he was “compelled” to be his own attorney and was under duress.

That word along with other statements from Madden during Monday’s hour-long hearing led Common Pleas Judge Jennifer McElfresh to conclude the move was not being done voluntarily.

Madden, 51, is charged with murder and felonious assault for the Oct. 11, 2022, stabbing death of Rachelle Brewsaugh on Parrish Avenue in Hamilton. Brewsaugh suffered more than 50 wounds, according to prosecutors.

“I hear Mr. Madden saying he would like to be represented by an attorney, but not one from Butler County and someone he can get along with that would fulfill his expectation of representation,” McElfresh said.

The judge noted four prior attorneys have been assigned to his case. He had problems with all of them, including one who was retained.

“The court really doesn’t believe that Mr. Madden would be satisfied with any attorney that would represent him. You have given me an excuse for every attorney you had. The court doesn’t want for force you into representing yourself, sir. But I am not going to revisit the issue of appointing another attorney.”

In November Madden told the judge he would “do my own trial” after she turned down his fifth attorney’s request to withdraw from the case.

Attorney Brad Kraemer renewed his request to withdraw last week, stating Madden wants to represent himself before the Jan. 22 trial date.

At the Monday hearing, that request was denied and Kraemer will remain on the case.

At one point during the hearing, Madden said he wouldn’t let Kraemer “walk puppy.”

After a short recesses in which Madden signed the court document to represent himself, the judge asked again.

“Again, I am not trying to force you and I am not try to put you under duress. Are you voluntarily going to represent yourself?” McElfresh asked Madden.

Madden said, “That is not my goal.”

He added he would not meet with Kraemer and participate in preparation for trial.

McElfresh again made it clear she was not appointing another attorney to the case.

On Oct. 26 of 2023, after a jury trial in which Madden testified in his own defense, he was found guilty of first-degree aggravated possession of drugs (methamphetamine) in Common Pleas Judge Greg Stephens’ courtroom.

Kraemer represented Madden in the drug case.

In his continued objections to Kraemer as his defense attorney, Madden called the drug case a “slam dunk” in which he should have been acquitted. He also said there was a lack of preparation for the upcoming trial, stating he has not seen discovery and no subpoenas have been issued. A review of the county clerk of courts website indicates witnesses have been subpoenaed, and Madden made reference to seeing “pictures” of the victim which are likely part of discovery.

Kraemer said subpoenas have been issued in preparation for the trial.

“He has conveyed to me consistently from the time I was appointed that he does not wish for me to represent him ... or anyone else from Butler County,” Kraemer said.

Madden again told the judge, “Of course I don’t want to represent (myself) I am compelled to be my own advocate.”

McElfresh then ruled she would not accept Madden’s waiver of representation.

“I think your frustration is more with the court’s appointment of counsel. You are clearly telling me you do not want tor represent yourself. I can’t in good conscious accept your waiver,” McElfresh said. “Whether you work with your attorney or not is up to you Mr. Madden. It is in you best interests to do so.”

At last month’s hearing the judge reminded Madden of letters penned to her as well as what his past attorneys termed as threats, told him he was entitled to competent court-appointed representation, but not one of his choosing.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

McElfresh said a forensic psychologist, who examined Madden at her request because he could not get along with any attorneys, said he was making repeated efforts to manipulate information.

Madden is being held in the Butler County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond.

Madden initially hired an attorney, but parted ways two months later, citing “irreconcilable differences.” Since then, court-appointed attorneys withdrew from the case.

Conflicts with attorneys apparently began when Madden wanted Brewsbaugh’s body exhumed and re-autopsied. He lost the motion, which was denied by the judge — but McElfresh did approve funds for a defense pathology expert to review the findings.

Brewsaugh, 50, was found dead inside the home in the 1200 block of Parrish Avenue. In court documents Dr. Russell Uptegrove, the pathologist who performed the autopsy for the Butler County Coroner’s Office, determined the woman died of multiple stab wounds.

Uptegrove found approximately 55 wounds to Brewsaugh’s head, chest and abdomen, including puncture wounds to the heart, according to court documents. Brewsaugh did not have any drugs in her system at the time of her death.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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