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Victoria father accused in mauling death of son competent to stand trial

By Jessica Priest
Dec. 17, 2013 at 6:17 a.m.
Updated Dec. 18, 2013 at 6:18 a.m.


A Victoria man accused in the pit bull mauling death of his 4-year-old son was found mentally competent to stand trial Tuesday.

Michael Cole Johnson, 29, will next be in court Feb. 4 for a motions hearing, although there were not any motions filed by his attorney, Stephen Cihal, that had not been addressed by a judge Tuesday, said Cathy Stuart, Victoria County district clerk.

Johnson, who is charged with criminal negligent homicide, injury to a child and endangering a child, is expected to stand trial March 5.

Johnson's son, Kylar, was killed after he wandered away from his home in the 1100 block of Old Goliad Road the night of March 25, 2012.

His body was found in a neighbor's backyard after a 14-hour search. Several dogs were in an enclosure there.

Johnson told sheriff's deputies that he was cleaning his car when Kylar wandered away.

Last month, Cihal filed a motion for continuance, thinking his client may be incompetent to stand trial after he threatened to commit suicide Oct. 10.

Neither Cihal nor the state requested that a jury determine whether Johnson was competent to stand trial.

Judge Robert C. Cheshire signed the competency order.

A person is incompetent to stand trial if he or she does not have the ability to consult with their attorney rationally or if he or she does not have a rational as well as a factual understanding of the proceedings, according to Article 46B.003 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

Dr. Joel Kutnick evaluated Johnson, but his findings were sealed by the court, Stuart said.

Neither Cihal nor the prosecutors, Stephen Tyler and Eli Garza, could be reached for comment after the 9 a.m. Tuesday hearing.

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