Arkansas inmate accused in officer’s death to be evaluated
TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) — A judge has ruled that an Arkansas inmate accused of killing a correctional officer needs further mental evaluations before his case can proceed to trial.
Tramell Hunter, 27, could face the death penalty if convicted of capital murder in the Dec. 18 death of correctional officer Lisa Mauldin, the Texarkana Gazette reported. Hunter is also accused of attacking correctional officer Damaris Allen.
At the time of the attacks, Hunter was assigned to the Miller County jail as part of Arkansas Department of Correction 309 program, which allows certain offenders to serve their sentences in county jails in need of labor.
Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson ordered the evaluation earlier this year after defense attorney Ron Davis entered a not guilty plea by reason of mental disease or defect.
At a hearing Tuesday, Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Black said a psychologist found that Hunter is incapable of assisting his lawyer with his defense. The psychologist also suggested further evaluation.
Davis recommended suspending the proceedings until Hunter finishes serving a 15-year sentence for aggravated robbery and domestic battery.
Black said she believes the defendant should be returned to the state hospital for continued evaluation.
“He can be admitted for evaluation but not for restoration,” Black said.
Johnson said Hunter’s case can’t move forward until he’s reevaluated and a determination of his competency has been made.
Information from: Texarkana Gazette, http://www.texarkanagazette.com