Original Case Details
A man charged with the murder and mutilation of a 25-year old man in Shiawasee County has been found incompetent to stand trial. The victim was found in a secret room in the defendant’s basement just after Christmas day of 2019. Investigators found the victim was stabbed in the back and hung from his ankles. The victim’s throat was also slashed, and parts of his body were allegedly eaten by the defendant. Police records show that 2 other men had previously been held captive in the same basement of the defendant but managed to get away. Neither of these previous men wanted to file charges due to being scared and wanting the incident to remain private. The defendant has since been evaluated by the state’s Center for Forensic Psychiatry and been declared incompetent to stand trial. This is an extremely rare outcome as insanity defenses are rarely used and only a small percentage of insanity defenses result in the defendant being declared incompetent to stand trial.
What Is Competency?
Everyone starts with the assumption that they are competent to stand trial. The assumption of competence means that it is assumed that you can understand the nature of the charges against you and you are able to assist your attorney in your defense. If you are charged with a crime, it is inferred that you are competent unless you are evaluated by a psychiatrist and found to be incompetent. Being declared incompetent is a legal declaration. In order to be found incompetent, a forensic psychologist must determine that you are not be able to understand the nature of the charges against you or are unable to assist your attorney in your defense in any meaningful way. Having a mental illness does not automatically mean that you will be found incompetent. In actuality, it is extremely rare to be found incompetent to stand trial since the burden for competence is so low.
What Happens Now That He Has Been Found Incompetent?
Now that the defendant has been found incompetent, he will remain in custody for a period of up to 15 months receiving treatment to try to restore him to competence. During that time, he will be reevaluated a few times to see if the treatment is working. Usually the defendant will have a check-in with the judge every 60 to 90 days. If during this time he regains competence, then his criminal trial will proceed as it did before. If after 15 months, he has not regained competence, then he will remain in a treatment center and the case will temporarily be dismissed. Since a murder charge is a life offense, the prosecutor can petition to refile the charges at a later date if and when the defendant ever regains competency. If the prosecutor or defense has an issue with any competency determinations, a hearing can be had in front of the judge in order to determine competency. All that will happen now is that the defendant will simply wait in jail until a bed opens up for him at the mental health hospital where he will begin to undergo treatment in an effort to bring him back to competence.
Any Further Questions?
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or being investigated for one, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. If there are mental health issues present, it is important to have an attorney that has the experience to understand the process involved with mental health professionals. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.