Man charged in son's death to be evaluated before trial

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Nov. 13, 2013 at 5:13 a.m.

A father who was charged with the death of his 4-year-old son who was mauled by pit bulls in Victoria must be evaluated by a doctor before his case can proceed.

Michael Cole Johnson, 29, is charged with criminal negligent homicide, injury to a child and endangering a child, which are all state jail felonies.

Deputies and community members found Johnson's son, Kylar, after a 14-hour search in March 2012. He was found dead in the backyard of a home in the 300 block of Village Lane, where 10 pit bulls were chained to a fence, according to earlier reports.

Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor said then that he had received several reports that Kylar walked in the neighborhood unattended.

On Wednesday, Johnson's attorney, Stephen Cihal, filed a motion for continuance.

In his motion, Cihal wrote Cole has shown he may be incompetent to stand trial. Cihal wrote he was not filing the motion to cause a delay.

This action comes after deputies responded to Johnson's home Oct. 10 when he threatened to commit suicide. Although Johnson was not injured, he was taken to Gulf Bend, said sheriff's office Capt. Abel Arriazola.

Judge Robert C. Cheshire granted Cihal's motion, which the state agreed with. Cheshire scheduled the case for a motions hearing Dec. 17.

At that time, Cheshire said, the judge and attorneys will discuss the result of what he called a "46B exam."

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.

When an attorney suggests a defendant may be incompetent to stand trial, the court appoints one or more disinterested experts to examine him or her. The experts then testify about what they found.

Cihal could not be reached for comment, and First Assistant District Attorney Eli Garza declined to comment about the case until it is resolved.

This is the second time Johnson has asked a judge to grant a motion for continuance. The first motion was granted after Johnson switched attorneys.



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