Antoine Jones has been in federal custody since late 2005, when the authorities picked him up on charges that he participated in a large-scale cocaine distribution ring in the Washington metropolitan area.

In the seven-plus years since his arrest, Jones has dealt with his share of lawyers—from his first two trials to the appellate level to the U.S. Supreme Court. Last January, the high court, in a landmark decision, concluded that his conviction and life sentence couldn’t stand based on police violations of his Fourth Amendment rights.

Today, dressed in a dark suit—and flashing a grin that never really disappeared—Jones set out on his own to convince a jury in Washington’s federal trial court that the charges against him are bogus. Jones, who faces life in prison, is representing himself at this, his third trial.

Delivering his opening statement this morning, Jones, in front of the jurors, ripped up a copy of the charging documents. “This is what we’re going to do with the indictment,” he said, tearing the paper into sections and setting the pieces on a table in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle.

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