DA Mac Myers requests second mental evaluation of Stagner
After Ninth District Attorney Mac Myers requested a second mental examination for accused killer Mike Stagner Thursday, Stagner’s public defender attorney contended Myers is “fishing for another opinion.”
The prosecutor’s request, according to Stagner’s public defender Greg Greer, is an attempt by Myers to find a medical opinion that better suits his case.
Dr. David S. Johnson, the psychiatrist appointed by the court, conducted the first sanity and competency examination after Stagner’s Jan. 22 preliminary hearing. The report on that examination was released March 25.
In that report, Johnson states that although Stagner is capable of participating in trial, he “was so diseased or defective in the mind at the time of the commission of the alleged acts as to be incapable from distinguishing right from wrong with respect to these acts.”
A suspect may have a verified history of mental illness, like Stagner, but the inability to distinguish right from wrong defines criminal insanity.
“He’s trying to get the court to appoint another psychiatrist,” Greer said. “He doesn’t like what (Johnson) said, so he’s out fishing for another opinion, looking for one he likes.”
Myers could not be reached for comment.
A decision on whether to allow a second evaluation is expected to come from District Judge T. Peter Craven at a May 14 hearing on the matter.
“We can give the whole morning for other motions,” Craven said. “One of the things we want to start talking about is a structure to start getting a jury.”
That “structure” could include sending out questionnaires or putting out a double call for jurors, as it is often difficult to seat a jury in such a high-profile case, Greer said.
Craven also set May 30 as the due date for filing motions, then he set aside three days, June 17 through June 19, to go through those motions.
“Those are some more routine motions you’d get in any contested case,” Greer said.
There has not been a request for a change of venue, but that request can be made at any time, Greer said.
“It’s something we’re always considering,” he said.
Stagner, 42, faces 19 charges, including eight counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. He was arrested July 3, just minutes after allegedly shooting seven Mexicans. Four of the victims died and three were seriously injured. Since his arrest Stagner has been held without bond in the Garfield County Jail.
On Jan. 22, Stagner pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. If he is found to be insane, he would be relegated to a guarded section of the state mental hospital, but if convicted of the murder charges, he could receive life in prison.
The district attorney has decided not to seek the death penalty.
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