Dr. Robert J. Sherman, who is charged with second degree murder in connection with an incomplete abortion performed three years ago on a 16-year-old patient, told a D.C. Superior Court judge yesterday that he cannot afford a lawyer or the costs of expert witnesses he needs to defend himself at a trial scheduled to start Tuesday.

Sherman told Judge Alfred Burka that he has repre John W. Karr, a Washington lawyer who has represented him at numerous pretrial hearings since Sherman was indicted by a federal grand jury in April. In addition to the murder count, the grand jury charged Sherman with 17 counts of perjury and nine counts of inducing employes to lie for him.

Burka said Sherman 65, who now lives in Richmond, told him he has no income and no assets and could not pay for transportation from Richmond and housing in Washington during his scheduled trial. The trial is expected to take more than a month.

Burka ordered Sherman to be interviewed by a court official, who later determined that Sherman was indigent and thus eligible for a court-appointed lawyer.

Sherman, who once ran a Washington abortion clinic, also contacted the city's Public Defender Service, which handles selected court-appointed cases, in an attempt to secure a free lawyer, Burka said.

Burka scheduled a hearing Friday, during which time the government will question Sherman about his assets and a decision will be made about legal representation for him.