Shaniya Davis: Judge Orders Delay to Ascertain Mario McNeill’s Psychologcal Capacity; Ruling to Proceed with Trial on Friday

Well, here’s the first stall from that stack of motions his defense attorneys presented to Judge Ammons: Mario McNeill will be psychologically evaluated before he stands trial to ascertain his mental capacity.   You know, I thought that had already been done.  No, I don’t think that McNeill is impaired so that he cannot withstand the rigors of a trial, but I think that his tendencies are definitely anti-social and anti-woman/child. In the long run, the attorneys may be making a play for a lesser sentence come the verdict in a death penalty murder case.

The capital murder trial of Mario Andrette McNeill has been delayed for at least a week while McNeill undergoes a mental evaluation.

McNeill, 32, is charged with murder, rape and kidnapping in the death of 5-year-old Shaniya Davis.

Opening statements were set to begin Monday afternoon, but Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons told jurors not to come back until next Monday.

Defense attorneys raised a question Monday morning about McNeill’s “capacity to proceed” and included an assessment of McNeill by Durham psychologist James Hilkey, who also evaluated Robert Stewart, who received a life sentence for killing eight people at a Carthage nursing home in 2009.

Ammons directed doctors from Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro and Central Regional Hospital in Butner, two state mental hospitals, to confer with Hilkey and conduct an independent evaluation of McNeill over the next few days.

The judge said he would hold a hearing Friday to determine whether the trial will proceed.

Suspect Mario McNeill while listening to the jury selection last week. A  psychological evaluation may not help or hinder his case (Courtesy: WRAL.com)

Again, this is what I am afraid of: that the trial will not proceed because of the findings.  But see, McNeill doesn’t want a life sentence, especially one without possibility of parole.  He wants a get-out-of-jail-free card.  An evaluation by the local shrinks may not help him out much, because it might influence the judge (or jury) to remand him to a prison with a psych ward instead of death row.  However, it might wipe that smirk off his face but good as with the photo above.

There was more from last week.  Apparently, Judge Ammons told the public and the press to leave chambers because there was something he wanted to say only to the jury, the defense and the prosecution.  That got the Fourth Estate riled:

The move came after the state and defense began to disagree Thursday afternoon on whether to allow information into evidence pertaining to McNeill leading investigators to the child’s body.

At a motions hearing Friday morning, Judge Jim Ammons unexpectedly cleared the courtroom.

“The matter has come to my attention that requires me, in the interest of justice, with no available means to me, to require this court to be closed to everyone except the parties that are involved,” the judge explained.

Reporters were ordered out for about 15 minutes, let in for a couple of minutes, and then [they] learned the hearing has been continued until first thing Monday morning, which is when the court expected to begin opening statements.

Now the jury will not report until Monday afternoon. So far, there’s been no clue as to what’s behind the continuance.

I wish I had been a fly on the wall listening to what happened, but Ammons is trying to be oh, so careful.  He doesn’t want to give McNeill’s attorneys anything to stand on for an appeal that might throw out the verdict.  At the same time, I feel that McNeill was not tricked when he admitted to authorities where to find the little girl’s body in exchange, he and his attorneys say, for a plea deal.  That supposed deal that went out the window with a new prosecutor.  One way or another, even with such an admission, he was not going to walk out of the clutches of the law that easily.

In another vein, I’m wondering why the media had to be thrown out of chambers as well as the public over this issue.  Because whatever was discussed is bound to surface sooner or later.

Stay tuned…

~ by blksista on April 23, 2013.

 
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