RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – On the second floor of the Franklin County Courthouse this week, 8-men and 6-women are making a decision normally made by a circuit judge.
Jurors are tasked with the deciding whether or not 28-year-old Michael McLemore is competent to stand trial for the 2011 murders of his father and step-mother.
Attorneys for McLemore asked for a jury to make the decision based on expert testimony by doctors for the state and defense.
In his seventeen years of working in the Franklin County District Attorney’s Office, Joey Rushing said this is his first time having a jury decide the competency of a defendant.
“It is an unusual situation and it is something that we are taking very seriously, because there won’t be a trial on the merits of the case unless he is found competent to stand trial,” explained Rushing.
During testimony Tuesday, a state psychologist working a Taylor-Hardin Secure Medical Facility said McLemore has refused to discuss the capital murder case with doctors at the facility.
She said he does show signs of psychosis during interaction with doctors, which could be attributed to years of extreme drug use.
During cross examination of the psychologist, McLemore’s defense attorney stated she has also spent hours trying to talk with him but he refuses to respond to her questions as well.
“One factor the doctors consider when they are talking to the defendant is the fact that is there non-cooperation based on something besides a mental impairment,” stated Rushing. “If it is based on just not wanting to cooperate so they won’t go on trial, then they usually express that to the court.”
Rushing said if the jury finds McLemore competent to stand trial, the case will be placed on the next available docket.
If found he is found to be non-competent to stand trial, Michael McLemore will be sent back to Taylor-Harding in Tuscaloosa for further mental health treatment.
According to Rushing, the competency trial is expected to last through Thursday.