Defendant questions detective in homicide trial; ‘I wasn’t on the scene when you arrived, is that correct?’

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MILWAUKEE -- An unusual murder trial in Milwaukee entered a second day of testimony on Tuesday, Jan. 30. Robert Tatum is the man charged with killing two people -- and he is now acting as his own lawyer during his second trial.

Robert Tatum

Tatum wanted to defend himself after he was charged with two murders that happened in 2010. Tatum was denied that -- and he appealed his conviction because of it. An appeals court agreed -- and now he is getting that chance in a new trial.

Tatum was wearing a business suit on Tuesday. Before the jury was brought into the courtroom, deputies uncuffed him and removed a stun belt. Tatum then proceeded to question one of the investigators.

Robert Tatum

"Of course, I wasn't on the scene when you arrived, is that correct?" asked Tatum.

Daniel Knitter, Milwaukee Police Detective

"That is correct," said Daniel Knitter, MPD detective.

"And when you talked to members of the witnesses during your canvasses, none of them reported seeing me at or around the time of the incident. Is that correct?" asked Tatum.

"No one reported seeing you," Knitter said.

On May 22, 2010, Rahim Abdella and Kyle Ippoliti were discovered dead from shotgun blasts. Tatum, their roommate, was being kicked out of the house for not paying rent.

Rahim Abdella

Kyle Ippoliti

Robert Tatum

The new trial brings back the first police on the scene to testify again -- this time in an unusual question and answer dialogue where the witness answers questions from the defendant.

"We checked several areas for reported sightings of you, but we did not locate you," Knitter testified.

"And why did you decide to look for me?" asked Tatum.

"Because you were the person of interest at that time," Knitter said.

In court Tuesday, Tatum had two books by his side. One was titled "How to Represent Yourself in Court." The other -- "The Colossal Book of Criminal Citations." After seven years in prison, Tatum is getting his proverbial day in court, once again.

Tatum has been winning sometimes when he objects to the prosecutor's questioning. Jurors have been seen taking notes and appearing very engaged in the testimony.

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