Fallon church shooting defendant ruled competent to stand trial

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FALLON, Nev. (KOLO) - John O'Connor, 49, again showed little expression as he appeared in Churchill County District Court Monday afternoon, September 16, 2019.

O'Conner is accused of fatally shooting another man during a church service in Fallon in July of 2018.

The legal case against him was stalled the past year as he underwent treatment at the Lakes Crossing Psychiatric Center. He had initially been found to be incompetent to stand trial. Monday two psychologists told the court he's improved to the point where he can assist in his own defense.

Previously, the psychologists had reported O'Connor believed if he could only tell his side of the story all would be explained. Monday, his attorney, Richard Davies, said that was still true. "He's been eager from the beginning to get his story out and tell the public what's going on. It's not as simple as it seems. I think I can say that he's excited about getting to the next phase and getting his story out."

No motive for the shooting has ever been suggested. Charles "Bert" Miller, 61, was a life long resident of Fallon, a well-known and well-liked member of the Volunteer Fire Department and his church. His funeral drew a sizeable portion of the community. Davies doubts a jury can be found in Fallon. Asked if a motion for a change of venue could be expected he replied,"You can bet on that."

Davis even rejected the suggestion of a local public defender when seeking the appointment of a second attorney to assist him.

"One of the biggest issues in this case is how close this alleged crime strikes a nerve in this community here and there's no way an attorney from her can fairly represent Mr. O'Connor," said Davies.

One of Miller's sons is a deputy at the Fallon Jail, so O'Connor will be held at the Lyon County Jail in Yerington instead of at the Fallon Jail.

The case now goes back to Fallon Justice Court for a preliminary hearing which will likely take place in the next few weeks.

Trial could be a year away.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2019