MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (WHNT) — Brian Lansing Martin is charged with killing Sheffield Police Sergeant Nick Risner and another man in Muscle Shoals during a crime spree in October 2021.

He could face the death penalty if convicted of capital murder but court records show there is confusion about his competency to stand trial.

On Nov. 2 an attorney for the Alabama Department of Mental Health said in a court filing that Martin had been “opined” incompetent to stand trial and was being committed to the department for evaluation and restoration of competency to stand trial.

But, last week the department’s attorney said the prior statement was wrong.

“ADMH retracts its prior statement that Defendant was previously opined incompetent to stand trial and committed to ADMH for restoration to competency, as said statement does not reflect an accurate record in this case,” Jacob Dubin, counsel for the Alabama Department of Mental Health said in the filing. “Defendant was not previously opined incompetent, as the prior evaluation was inconclusive. Defendant was committed to ADMH for further evaluation to determine competency to stand trial and shall admit upon bed availability.”  

Martin is charged with four counts of capital murder in connection with the shooting deaths of William Mealback and Sheffield Police Sgt. Nick Risner in October 2021. Lt. Max Dotson was injured in the incident. Martin is also charged with three counts of attempted murder, three counts of shooting into an occupied vehicle, certain persons forbidden to possess a pistol, and abuse of a corpse.

The department said Martin’s evaluation and treatment – he was 165 on the wait list as of Nov. 2 — could begin in March 2024 as a bed becomes available.

The court ordered a mental health evaluation for Martin in November 2022 and his mental health records were reviewed at an April hearing. The judge in the case ordered a 90-day evaluation following that April hearing. Now, it appears another evaluation still needs to take place.

To be tried in Alabama a defendant has to be deemed “competent,” essentially that he or she is capable of understanding the charges and assist in their own defense.

The court has also denied Martin’s request to replace his lawyers.

Martin had previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a plea deal after killing his father with a sword. He was released from prison in 2016 after serving 3 years of a 10-year sentence on the manslaughter charge.