On February 12, 2008, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the death sentence for convicted murderer and anti-government extremist Wade Lay.
Wade Lay, now 46, claims that he was arming himself in resistance to government tyranny when he and his son, Christopher Lay, shot and killed a security guard at the bank they were attempting to rob in May 2004.
After a joint trial in 2005, a jury convicted both father and son of first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery. Wade Lay was sentenced to death, Christopher Lay life to without parole.
The Lays claimed to be robbing the bank to acquire money for munitions needed to kill the government officials they believed to be responsible for the civilian deaths incurred during the 1993 Branch Davidian incident in Waco, Texas, and the 1992 standoff at Ruby Ridge, Idaho.
Wade Lay represented himself at trial, which was the basis of his recent appeal. Lay asserted (this time via a public defender) that the district judge had erred in allowing him to represent himself during the sentencing phase of his trial. Although the court had appointed standby counsel for Wade during the trial, that counsel was not required to be present in the courtroom during sentencing.
The appeals court held, in a unanimous decision, that a defendant may represent himself in all phases of a capital trial. The court did however hold that, although it is not legally mandated, standby counsel should be present for future capital proceedings in which the defendant chooses to represent himself.
In 2006, the state appeals court affirmed the trial outcome for Christopher Lay, now 23. Christopher Lay was represented by attorneys during the original trial.