Murder trial delayed as defendant's competency is questioned

Daniel Wright one of three charged in 2010 homicide

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comApril 8, 2013 

A murder trial in one of Columbus’ four homicides that happened around Labor Day 2010 was delayed Monday when the defense questioned the defendant’s competency to stand trial.

Daniel Jerrell Wright, now 32, is among three men charged in the Sept. 3, 2010, fatal shooting of Brian Alexander Brown in the First Avenue Johnston Mill Lofts. He was expected to go to trial before Superior Court Judge John Allen, with codefendants Cordiary Antwon Bell and Gustavious Antonio Perry testifying against him.

But Wright’s attorney Will Kirby told Allen his client has paranoid schizophrenia and lately has been behaving as if he has not been taking his medication. Wright no longer seems capable of carrying on a coherent conversation or otherwise aid in his own defense, Kirby said.

“I have very strong concerns about his ability to stand trial,” Kirby said.

Wright made some odd comments as Allen asked about his background. The defendant said he once attended Fort Middle School and Kendrick High School, but kept getting kicked out. He said he has worked in construction at Fort Benning and for a battery manufacturer, but he could not recall when. He said he has two children ages 15 and 16, and before his arrest, he lived either with his mother or with a cousin.

He told Allen he thought doctors were in the courtroom, though none were. Having been escorted in and out of the courtroom as the session proceeded in fits and starts, he at one point said he believed he was on a different floor of the Government Center than the one he was on before.

“People, they control your thoughts, your movements, your speech,” he told Allen.

The judge suggested Wright tell that to a psychologist who is to evaluate him Tuesday morning, after which Allen may hold a trial on his competency. That trial could be before a jury or before the judge alone, attorneys said. If found competent, his trial will proceed afterward.

He, Bell and Perry each face charges of murder, attempted armed robbery and a weapons charge in the fatal shooting of Brown, 33, who died from a bullet to the head as the three men shot through his apartment door while trying to rob him.

Brown’s fatal shooting was the first of four violent deaths over the Labor Day weekend.

Bell and Wright were initially charged with murder Jan. 18, 2011, while being held on unrelated charges in the Muscogee County Jail. Perry was arrested the following Jan. 20, moments after he testified against Bell and Wright in Columbus Recorder’s Court.

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