TX School Shooting Suspect Called Incompetent to be Tried

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Texas prosecutors agree with defense attorneys for the teenager accused of killing eight students and two teachers at Santa Fe High School last year that he is not mentally competent to stand trial now, reports the Washington Post. Both sides hired doctors to evaluate Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 19, and a third evaluation was ordered by the judge presiding over the case. Each assessment reached the same conclusion. On May 18, 2018, the high school junior allegedly shot and killed 10 people at the campus southeast of Houston. Thirteen others were wounded, including John Barnes, a school police officer. Pagourtzis is charged with capital murder.

An order deeming him mentally incompetent would put a trial on hold indefinitely. The next step would be to transfer Pagourtzis to a state mental hospital for treatment. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission said in July that more than 800 inmates are on the list to get a bed at one of 10 state mental hospitals. The average wait time for a bed in a maximum-security unit is around nine months. Pagourtzis’s trial is scheduled for next February. Rosie Stone, whose 17-year-old son Chris was killed in the shooting, said she had a “meltdown” when she heard the news. For her, a trial holds the promise of answers about her son’s final moments. She still doesn’t have his autopsy report and doesn’t know what happened inside the school before, during and after the rampage. In Texas, a person is considered incompetent if they lack the ability to consult with their lawyer “with a reasonable degree of rational understanding” or if they lack “a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against” them. Defense attorney Nicholas Poehl said his client is “not capable of communicating with us in a particularly rational or sequential way.”

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