Inmate accused of killing jail correctional officer found unfit for trial | Arkansas Blog

Inmate accused of killing jail correctional officer found unfit for trial

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An Arkansas inmate accused of killing a female correctional officer while he was being held at the Miller County jail was found unfit for trial by mental health experts, the Texarkana Gazette reports.

Tramell Mackenzie Hunter, 27, went before Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson Tuesday on charges of capital murder for the killing of Correctional Officer Lisa Mauldin, who was reportedly attacked in the jail's kitchen. He is also charged with the battery of Correctional Officer Damaris Allen, who he is said to have harmed after inflicting the injuries that led to the death of Maudlin. The state is seeking the death penalty, according to the Gazette.

An evaluation by mental health professionals — ordered after Hunter's lawyer Ron Davis entered a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect — found that Hunter is not capable of helping his lawyer in his own defense. Dr. Benjamin Silver, a staff psychologist at Arkansas State Hospital who testified on the evaluation, said Hunter is on the "schizophrenia spectrum."

Typically in cases of mental evaluation, Hunter would be taken back to a state hospital for further evaluation "in hopes competency can be restored through drug and other therapy," said the newspaper.

Davis asked that Hunter instead, already an inmate in Arkansas's prison system who was serving his sentence in Miller County jail, be allowed to finish his current sentence for aggravated robbery and two counts of felony domestic battery, putting the death penalty trial on hold. But Johnson ordered that Hunter return to a state hospital for further evaluation as the prosecution requested.

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