Jury selection was complete and opening statements were ready in a Fayetteville courtroom this week when the proceedings came to a temporary standstill. The judge ordered that the mental state of the defendant be evaluated by professionals before the trial got underway.
The 32-year-old defendant is accused of assaulting and killing a 5-year-old girl four years ago. His attorneys asked the court to order the psychiatric examinations out of concern that he was unable to assist in his defense. After hearing testimony from those psychiatrists, though, the judge ruled against the defense. The defendant is competent, the judge said, and the trial should go ahead as planned.
According to the first psychiatrist, the defendant suffers from three personality disorders. The doctor added that the defendant has been consulting with a deity named Sophia and that the defendant believes he can see the future. In the psychiatrist’s opinion, these illnesses could impair the defendant’s ability to assist with his defense.
Defense counsel added that the defendant does not believe he is mentally ill. He also believes the psychiatrist was able to telepathically alter his responses during the evaluation. When asked by the prosecution why these conditions weren’t noted prior to this week, the psychiatrist responded that the defendant had refused, that he wanted the trial to go forward.
Testimony from other psychiatrists agreed with the diagnosis but disagreed with their impact on the defendant. They said that the personality disorders were real but that they did not impair the defendant’s ability to participate in his defense.
We have discussed the question of capacity before, and there is no doubt that the issue is difficult. Regardless of the defendant’s statements that he had special psychic connections with three jurors, his trial will start up again next week.
Source: ABC Local, “Mario McNeill found competent to stand trial,” Associated Press, April 26, 2013
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