ST. GEORGE – A man accused of attempted murder may face a new mental health evaluation after his competency, once again, came into question Monday in 5th District Court.
Craig Manwill Bennett, 33, was previously sent to the Utah State Hospital in early 2013 where he was declared incompetent to proceed to trial by two mental health experts. He was later declared restored to competency and was released to the custody of Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility in June 2014.
Edward Flint, Bennett’s lawyer, had initially planned to challenge the competency results, though he later told the court during a Jan. 13 hearing that the defense would not challenge the evaluation. Instead, he said he would likely pursue another mental health-related defense for his client.
Fifth District Judge Eric Ludlow scheduled the case for a preliminary hearing Monday morning.
When Flint stood before the judge during the Monday hearing, with a shackled Bennett by his side, he said the defense anticipated waiving the preliminary hearing due to new concerns about Bennett’s competency.
Bennett had decided to stop taking his medications, Flint said, which created a “completely different man” than the one he had been dealing with while considered competent. Flint said he wasn’t sure how to proceed with the case and wondered if the court had authority to make his client stay on his medications.
The state does have a mechanism to compel Bennett to take his medication, Deputy Washington County Ryan Shaum said. That mechanism is the Utah Department of Human Services which oversees the Utah State Hospital. The facility takes in defendants considered incompetent and works to restore them to competency so their cases can move forward.
The defense will be filing a motion for a new mental evaluation, Flint said. This will result in Bennett’s being sent back to the state hospital for evaluation.
The state did not object to the measure, as it had already called off its witnesses.
Ludlow said the court would wait on Flint’s motion. For the time being, Bennett will continue to he held at Purgatory.
Bennett is accused of attempting to kill a man with a shotgun on the night of Nov. 27, 2012. The incident happened at a trailer park in the Harrisburg community along Interstate 15. The victim, a 48-year-old trailer park resident, was flown to University Medical Center in Las Vegas in critical condition and ultimately survived the altercation.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact
- Attempted murder case advances to preliminary hearing
- New competency hearing set for man charged with attempted murder
- State hospital clears Bennett for trial on attempted murder charges
- Benson, Bennett cases wait on mental evaluations of defendants
- Shooting in Harrisburg community’s St. George Horizon Trailer Park
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