Pastor may face life confined to mental facility - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Pastor may face life confined to mental facility

A Montgomery judge found Terry Greer not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. (Source: Jefferson Co. Sheriff's Office) A Montgomery judge found Terry Greer not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. (Source: Jefferson Co. Sheriff's Office)
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

The pastor found not guilty of the murder of his wife may spend the rest of his life institutionalized.

Wednesday, a Montgomery judge found Terry Greer not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. Investigators said Greer shot and killed his wife in their Gardendale home in January 2013. They say he also shot and injured his daughter. The judge ruled Greer didn't know the difference between right and wrong at the time.

"The key word there is not guilty," said legal analyst Mark McDaniel.

McDaniel said in order to receive that sentence you must have a mental disability or disease and because of that, not understand the nature and quality of wrongfulness of actions.

Greer is in jail awaiting transfer to Taylor Hardin, a mental hospital in Tuscaloosa, where he will stay until the staff there petitions to the court on his behalf.

"The director of Taylor Hardin says this person is no longer a threat to themselves or to someone in the community and can be released," said McDaniel.

According to Neal Zarzour, a prosecutor in the Greer case, a petition doesn't always mean you can walk free.

"Despite petitions from the staff at Taylor Hardin judges have decided that the best place for the individual to stay was at Taylor Hardin, and kept them there, denied the petition," said Zarzour.

The prosecution's medical expert witness diagnosed Greer with vascular dementia.

"Typically not something that improves over time but instead typically worsens," said Zarzour.

Greer may spend the rest of his days at Hardin, but according to McDaniel, that's not usually the case for people sent to mental hospitals instead of prison.

"Generally speaking they would get out quicker if they are sent to Taylor Hardin because when they get them down there they can medicate and treat them," said McDaniel.

Most patients released from a mental facility continue with counseling and medication, McDaniel said.

Copyright 2014 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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