Jury declares man in aggravated assault case competent to stand trial
The case of a 17-year-old who is charged with beating a public servant in September will be heard in court.
After two days of testimony, a jury found Derrick McKenzie competent to stand trial.
The competency hearing had two days of testimony because several witnesses took the stand to testify about McKenzie's competency.
The jury took about two hours to make its unanimous decision.
"The stakes are high," District Attorney Steve Tyler said in reference to how dangerous McKenzie is. "You can't pull any punches."
Aside from the aggravated assault charge, McKenzie is also charged in Fayette County with stabbing to death his uncle's girlfriend after he escaped from a New Waverly detention facility in Walker County. He also faces an aggravated robbery charge in another case.
In closing arguments, Tyler asked the jury to review the evidence entered during the hearing, such as the recording in which McKenzie identified himself and talked about his case - a sign of competency.
"We have to use proxies because we can't read minds," he told the jury.
Keith Weiser, who represented McKenzie, told jurors they were tasked with a difficult decision.
"Incompetency is something we don't run into on a day-to-day basis," he said. "We are dealing with the human mind."
He reminded jurors that each psychiatrist who testified repeatedly said there is no objective way to measure competency.
Weiser ended his closing argument by reading an affidavit from McKenzie to his parents.
"I have to deal with my demons," the letter started.
McKenzie's stepmother and father, Melissa and Eric McKenzie, were present at the verdict and began to cry when portions of the letter were read.
Tyler said a trial date has not been set, but a motions hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. March 5.
The trial for McKenzie's aggravated assault of a public servant charge will likely start in the fall, he said.