HOUSTON – An attorney for a Houston man accused of fatally shooting a sheriff's deputy at a gas station last year said Wednesday he disagrees with a state mental hospital's finding that his client is competent to stand trial and the issue will likely end up having to be decided by a jury.
Shannon Miles had spent several months at the North Texas State Hospital after he was ruled incompetent to stand trial for the August 2015 killing of Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth.
Prosecutors say Goforth, 47, was filling his squad car at a suburban Houston gas station when Miles shot him 15 times. They allege he attacked the deputy because he was a law enforcement officer.
Miles, 32, was returned to the Harris County Jail in Houston in September after doctors at the hospital concluded he was competent to be tried for capital murder.
But during a court hearing Wednesday, Anthony Osso, one of Miles' defense attorneys, said his client is still unable to help in his own defense.
"We believe based on ... our inability to work with him, that he's still incompetent," Osso said after the hearing.
Records show Miles was committed to mental health facilities twice in the last six years.
Miles' defense team will have its own expert examine him and will present those findings at a court hearing Jan. 12.
If defense attorneys still believe Miles is incompetent, they will ask a judge to schedule a trial to determine if he is competent, Osso said. Under Texas law, trials can be held where a jury hears evidence before deciding if a defendant is competent to be tried.
"The way it's going right now ... I would say we're heading in that direction," Osso said about a competency trial.
Prosecutor Marcy McCorvey said authorities have no reason to dispute the hospital's finding of competency.
Prosecutors have not decided if they will seek the death penalty in the case.
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