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Attorneys debate competency of man charged with 2004 murder

June 21, 2019

POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho man charged with murder in connection with the 2004 stabbing death of a 25-year-old woman has been jailed for five years, but there is still no trial date in sight as attorneys wrestle over whether he is competent to stand trial.

The Idaho State Journal reports Brad Scott Compher, 44, was at the Bannock County Courthouse on Thursday for a hearing on whether he is mentally competent enough to contribute to his own defense if the death penalty case moves forward.

Compher was arrested in 2015 and charged with the 2004 killing of Nori Jones, who was found dead in her home of stab wounds and other injuries. Police say DNA evidence and fingerprints link Compher to Jones’ case.

The Bannock County prosecutors handling the case and Compher’s court-appointed attorneys, John Scott Andrew of Pocatello and Gary Edward Proctor of Baltimore, Maryland, have argued back and forth for several months regarding the status of Compher’s competency.

Bannock County Judge Stephen Dunn ordered Compher to undergo competency restoration under the care of the Idaho Department of Correction last year after a psychiatrist diagnosed him with schizophrenia and intellectual disability.

In January, state attorneys said a Boise-based psychologist, Dr. James Barry, had found Compher fit to stand trial.

But Compher’s attorney Gary Proctor told the judge Thursday that the competency tests performed by Barry were short, designed for people with dementia and shouldn’t hold much weight in court.

“The handwritten notes from Compher would suggest something a lot different than competency,” Proctor said, pointing out that Compher indicated the penalty for murder was life in prison, even though he could face the death penalty if convicted.

Proctor also said Compher’s verbal IQ is extremely low.

“His verbal IQ is in the first percentile. This morning my kids graduated from the fourth grade and their verbal IQ is higher than Mr. Compher’s,” he said. “I just can’t imagine putting someone graduating fourth grade on trial for a capital offense.”

But Bannock County Deputy Prosecutor JaNiece Price asked the judge to allow Barry to respond to Proctor’s arguments. She said that because Barry has expertise in forensic developmental mental health, his opinion should granted greater consideration than that of the psychiatrist who diagnosed Compher last year.

Dunn said he must take all the information regarding Compher’s competency into account before making a ruling.

“I’m not a psychologist or forensic psychiatrist,” Dunn said. “All the court can do is consider all the opinions that have been offered and make the best judgment that a court can make.”


Information from: Idaho State Journal, http://www.journalnet.com

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