Expert comments on Rochester man calling himself a “sovereign citizen” after facing murder charges

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Rochester parolee accused of killing his neighbor says he is a “sovereign citizen.”

Lequan Hill is accused of stabbing and killing Antoine Parris after Parris tried to break up an argument. Every time hill has been in court, including on Thursday, he told the judge he is a sovereign citizen. That is someone who believes they are above the law and the courts and police have no power over them.

Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean spoke to an expert on sovereign citizens, Dr. Christine Sarteschi of Chatham University in Pittsburgh

Berkeley Brean: “Help our viewers understand what a sovereign citizen is and the implications of that.”

Dr. Christine Sarteschi: “A sovereign citizen is essentially someone who believes they are above the law. So they do not believe the laws of the united states apply to them. And the implication of that in court settings in particular they can be very problematic because they will often times refuse a lawyer, attempt to represent themselves.”

Brean: In your experience, what would prompt somebody to declare themselves a sovereign citizen?

Sarteschi: “As a way to get out of responsibility for whatever they’re accused of. The belief is that this will help them get out of trouble. It doesn’t work. It’s never worked before. They may not know that but it’s a good excuse or a good reason to attempt to get out of trouble.”

Hill pleaded not guilty to murder on Thursday. One of Hill’s family members told us they tried to get Hill mental health care prior to the homicide.

One estimate puts the number of sovereign citizens in the U.S. at between 300,000 to 500,000.