Fallon church shooting defendant not competent to stand for trial
RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The facts surrounding the crime itself has been straight forward, seemingly known from the beginning.
According to the charges against him, on July 22, 2018, 47-year-old John O’Connor walked up to 61-year-old Charles ‘Bert’ Miller during a service at a Fallon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, shouted, “This will show them,” and shot Miller at close range with a nine millimeter hand gun.
The shooting was witnessed by dozens. O’Connor was followed and a short time later was arrested at his home nearby.
But the legal case was immediately put on hold over the issue of O’Connor’s competency. Psychiatrists told the court O’Connor believed if he just had a chance to tell his story all would be explained. Examination was ordered, then treatment.
Finally, more than a year after the shooting, he was judged competent to stand trial and in February of 2020, he was arraigned. Asked by Judge William Maddox if he understood the charges against him, O’Connor appeared dazed, but when asked for his plea answered promptly, “Not guilty.”
A trial date was finally set for March of this year, but treatment and evaluation has continued and Tuesday in another hearing in Fallon, reports by three different psychologists were read. All agreed O’Connor lacked the capacity to understand the charges against him or assist in his defense and that was unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
His attorney moved for dismissal. The prosecution filed a motion for a hearing seeking to have O’Connor committed to the maximum security Lakes Crossing Psychiatric Center. A hearing on that motion is scheduled for September 7th, 2021.
If he ever improves, it’s still possible O’Connor could still be tried. His current diagnosis makes that highly unlikely.
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