Matters of the mind

The defense lawyers pointed at Jose Garcia Morales and asked their expert on the stand, “Is this man competent to stand trial?”

Their psychiatrist said no. Morales suffers from a psychic disorder.

But state psychiatrist William Grant says while Morales is certainly and understandably depressed about being locked up and facing a possible life prison sentence, Dr. Grant says “situational depression” doesn’t make Morales mentally unfit to cooperate in helping his attorneys prepare his defense, if he chooses.

And that’s the key; if he chooses. For several months Morales hasn’t responded to anything his attorneys ask, say, or do.  On a gradual decline since police arrested him and his brother for murder more than two years ago,  the public defenders say Morales has deteriorated to the point that they don’t know if he wants to take the stand, if he would consider a plea agreement. The man just slumps in his chair, urinates on himself, he has “completely shut down,” they told the judge during Wednesday’s competency hearing.

Prosecuting attorney Steve Lowe says Morales is feigning his behavior and knows being committed to a mental hospital is better than prison. “This isn’t his first rodeo,” Lowe told the judge, and says Morales is aware there’s a greater possibility he’ll be freed from a hospital ward a lot sooner than from a prison wing.

Judge Carrie Runge is now considering her ruling, which could come later this week or early next week.




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2 responses to “Matters of the mind

  1. Randy Scarberry

    Aren’t people deemed not competent to stand trial committed only until they are judged competent? Having had a close relative in a mental institution, I’m in a position to know that, if he’s faking, he’ll probably decide pretty quick that it’s better to just face the music.

  2. Anonymous

    Don’t bet the farm that being committed to a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane is better than prison.

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