Lawyer: Accused Texas school shooter found incompetent
HOUSTON (AP) — The trial for a teenager accused of fatally shooting 10 people at a Texas high school will be delayed while he receives mental health treatment, his attorney said Monday.
The news comes after three experts — one for the defense, one appointed by the court and one picked by prosecutors — found Dimitrios Pagourtzis incompetent to stand trial, said Nick Poehl, one of Pagourtzis’ attorneys.
Poehl said he could not discuss specific details of any diagnosis due to privacy issues. But he said Pagourtzis cannot understand the charges against him or assist in his defense.
“I’m glad he’s going to be receiving some treatment that he desperately needs,” Poehl said.
The prosecution expert’s findings were discussed at a meeting between attorneys and Ellisor on Monday in which all parties agreed that Pagourtzis was not competent to stand trial, Poehl said.
A formal order from Judge John Ellisor is expected later this week.
Kevin Petroff, the first assistant district attorney for Galveston County, said his office was working to meet with all families of the victims before making any statement.
Pagourtzis, 19, is charged with capital murder for the May 18, 2018, attack at Santa Fe High School, which is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Houston. His trial was set to start Feb. 18. Because he was 17 at the time of the attack, he is not eligible for the death penalty.
The issue of Pagourtzis’ competency relates to his current state of mind and not his state of mind at the time of the shooting, Poehl said.
Pagourtzis will be transferred from the Galveston County Jail to a state mental health facility, where he will remain for four to six months to receive treatment. After that, he will be re-evaluated to determine whether he is competent for trial.
It’s not clear when the transfer will happen.
“We’re all just hoping it happens as soon as possible,” Poehl said.
Ellisor on Monday lifted an order that had prevented defense attorneys and prosecutors from discussing Pagourtzis’ mental state.
Pagourtzis also faces federal charges in a sealed criminal case.
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