GRETNA, La. – Attorneys for Jerman Neveaux, the man accused of killing a Jefferson Parish deputy last year in Harvey, will have extra time to find witnesses to bolster their argument that he is not competent to stand trial, The New Orleans Advocate reports.
Judge Conn Regan of the 24th Judicial District Court ruled that the competency hearing will be continued until Aug. 30 following a morning of contentious testimony about whether Neveaux was exposed to lead as a child, resulting in mental defects.
Examinations showed no indication Neveaux suffered from any “identifiable disease or defect,” court-appointed psychiatrist Richard Richoux said. But defense attorney Martin Regan said he might want to call another doctor to testify before the judge makes his ruling.
Wednesday’s hearing happened nearly two months after a prior hearing in which Neveaux was ruled competent to stand trial until the initial report by court-appointed psychologists was delivered to defense attorneys, something that didn’t happen until days before the June 7 hearing.
The judge at that time allowed Neveaux's attorneys until July 19 to submit additional medical reports to doctors for their review. He said that if Neveaux’s lawyers could not change the report by today’s hearing, Neveaux will be considered able to assist in his own defense.
Among the medical records Martin Regan wanted doctors to consider were those that claim damage to Neveaux's frontal lobe and lead poisoning as a child that led to an intellectual disability.
Neveaux, who for the first time since his arrest was not brought into court in a wheelchair, faces the death penalty for allegedly killing Deputy David Michel Jr. after the deputy stopped him for questioning on Manhattan Boulevard on June 22, 2016.
Authorities have said Neveaux shot Michel once while they were on the ground and pumped two more bullets into his back after Neveaux stood up.
He ran away to a nearby home where he was arrested by deputies who were recorded beating him as they took him into custody. He suffered fractured bones in his face and was badly bruised and had since attended hearings in a wheelchair.
Martin Regan had filed a motion for Neveaux to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.
Competency to stand trial is determined by a standard known as the Bennett criteria, named after a Louisiana Supreme Court case. It's a separate issue from the insanity defense, which contends a defendant didn't know right from wrong when a crime was committed.