Opening statements begin in murder suspect's competency hearing - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Opening statements begin in murder suspect's competency hearing

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Michael McLemore (Source: Marie Waxel) Michael McLemore (Source: Marie Waxel)

Opening statements in the competency hearing of murder suspect Michael McLemore began Tuesday.

Prosecutors plan to show evidence to why McLemore is competent to withstand trial. The defense plans to show reasons why he is not competent to withstand. 

Some evidence of the murders will be shared during testimony, but the trial will only focus on McLemore and not the crimes or victims.

This trial is to determine whether or not he can be tried for the alleged crimes. 

The first witness was Dr. Amber Simpler, Psychologist from Taylor Hardin Secure Medical Facility. Simpler said McLemore's file showed he was admitted to Taylor Hardin in June 2013 and started medication for psychosis in Oct. 2013. He was placed under Dr. Simpler's case load in Jan./Feb. 2014. 

Simpler said in the last few months there have been no reports from staff that McLemore showed signs of psychosis. He has self-reported that he hears voices and that the TV talks to him. 

McLemore also reported frequent use of alcohol, use and abuse of prescription medication and use and experimental use of marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, spice, meth and PCP. Simpler said McLemore's 'drug of choice' is solvent use or 'huffing.'

McLemore dropped out of school in the 8th grade, and when he was 19 or 20 years old, he was hit in the head with a hammer by his uncle. He did not seek medical treatment. The recent MRI conducted showed no permanent damage. 

The jury will have three options once all the evidence is presented. They must decide if McLemore is competent to stand trial, if he is incompetent due to mental disease with the probability competency can be restored, or that he is incompetent with no signs competency can be restored.

District Attorney Joey Rushing said this is the first time in 17 years a Franklin County jury has been called upon to determine competency.

"It is an unusual situation and it is something we are taking very seriously," Rushing said. "There won't be an actual trial on the merits of the case unless he is found competent to stand trial."

Rushing said it is possible for someone to be declared incompetent, and later be found competent.

"At some point they may find him incompetent, and later on if they prescribe some medication they can say he's been restored to competency... It depends on the person and the situation and things of that nature."

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