by Max Brantley
Judge Chris Piazza ruled today that Curtis Lavelle Vance is competent to stand trial for the murder of KATV's Anne Pressly. He first heard testimony from forensic psychiatrist Dr. Shawn Agharkar, who said that his conversation with Vance found him to be prone to paranoid delusions and the belief that others -- including police and his own defense team -- were conspiring against him. A simple cognitve screening administered by Agharkar on March 27 found Vance to be operating far below the normal mental capacity expected of a 28 year old. "They indicate that there is either brain damage or brain impairment," the psychiatrist said. "A man his age shouldn't have these problems." Agharkar said that he believed the impairment might stem from an incident related by Vance's mother, who said that when Vance was five years old, she slammed his head repeatedly against a brick wall until he passed out. Since then, Agharkar reported Vance's mother as saying, Curtis had been "slow."
(Vance's mother was asked about testimony by reporters. Our clip indicates she made a comment about being a recoverng addict.)
But highlights today included the judge's reaming of Fox 16 for having a microphone on during the last hearing, which provided sound for video shot through the glass window of the courtroom door. He said he'll be moving future hearings in the Vance case to a courtroom without a clear glass door. Piazza said he would "chalk this one up to arrogance or ignorance," but should such happen again Piazza warned, "whoever does it will need to get themselves a really good First Amendment lawyer, because they will be in custody."