Hinds County Circuit Judge Jeff Weill denied a motion for a mental evaluation of accused killer Gerome Moore. Gerome Moore, Antwain Dukes, and Antreal Jones were indicted for capital murder in the death of Carolyn Temple in Belhaven in January 2015. Moore also filed a motion to suppress statements he made to the police. Moore was 17 years-old at the time of the murder.
Attorney Aafram Sellers represents Moore. Mr. Sellers asked the court on May 26 to order the defendant to submit to a mental evaluation at St. Dominic Hospital. Mr. Sellers said that Moore was under "great mental and emotional distress at the time of this incident". He also claimed he suffered from "bipolar disorder, conduct disorder (Um, isn't murder a conduct disorder?), marijuana dependence, alcohol abuse, ecstasy abuse, parent/child relation problems (Well, that mother would be a problem for any kid), and numerous psychological stressors." He claims that Moore was diagnosed with these conditions one month prior to the murder at the Mississippi State Hospital. He claimed his mother didn't notify him of this treatment until May 15 and it was never mentioned by the client. He provided a sealed exhibit that probably contains a medical record from MSH.
Judge Weill denied the request for a mental evaluation last Wednesday. He cited another case that involved Moore. Moore and some of his fellow inmates escaped from the Hinds County Detention Center in Jackson last year. He was indicted for one count of malicious mischief and one count of escape. Mr. Sellers represented Moore. The trial was held in the week of May 16. Moore was acquitted on the malicious mischief charge and convicted of escape. Mr. Sellers did not once raise the issue of his mental fitness or ask for a mental evaluation during the trial just concluded for his client.
Judge Weill said he questioned
defense counsel about the defendant's capacity to stand trial, particularly in light of the fact that the defendant proceed to trial in cause number 15-0-897 one week prior to the filing of the instant motion, and during that trial, the defendant was seen conversing with his counsel and further, knowingly and intelligently waived his right to testify in open court. Defense counsel advised that there was no indication prior the May 16, 2016, trial that the defendant could not assist with his defense in cause number 15-0-897, and further asserted that the basis of the instant motion and the proposed mental examination would be to assess the defendant's capacity at the time of the offense-January 7, 2015. The State of Mississippi argued that the motion was untimely and was filed simply to delay trial in cause number 15-0-176. The State of Mississippi supported this argument by nothing that during his interview with the Jackson Police Department, which was provided to defense counsel during discovery, the defendant referenced that he took medication for a mental disorder, therefore his counsel should have been on notice of any potential mental health issues involving his client.Judge Weill said his ruling should not bar the defense from using a defense of insanity.
Mr. Sellers also filed a motion to suppress a statement on April 13, 2016. He claimed that the prosecution had a recording and transcripts of statements Moore made to the police when he was interrogated shortly after his arrest. Sellers said incriminating statements were made by Moore under "repeat interrogations" without counsel or "intelligent knowing or waiver of counsel." Moore claims threats and coercion was used against him during the 90 minute interview. Mr. Sellers argues Moore could not knowingly waive his right to counsel due to his age, IQ, and "lack of experience with law enforcement".
Moore also claimed he was smoking spice for several days and that he was under the influence of drugs when he made the statements to the police. It is thus argued that Moore could not knowingly waive his Miranda rights. The state replied that the police explained to Moore his constitutional rights in writing and that he signed the form. The signing was recorded on video. The court has not ruled on this motion.
The other two suspects await trial as their cases have been continued.
Kingfish note: Mr. Sellers will undoubtedly argue that he wants to determine Moore's mental state at the time of the murder. Who can forget this video of Moore's mother defending her son?