Man accused of murder found competent to stand trial - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

WACO

Man accused of murder found competent to stand trial

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Carnell Petetan Jr. Carnell Petetan Jr.
WACO - A man accused of murdering his estranged wife and kidnapping her daughter in 2012 has been found competent to stand trial for capital murder. Carnell Petetan Jr. faces the death penalty if found guilty.

The jury came down with the decision about 1:40 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

Both sides rested about 10:30 a.m. Thursday morning. Charges were read, and then closing arguments began a short time later.

After staying quiet throughout hearing, McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna gave closing arguments. He begged the jury to use common sense and find Petetan competent.

Opening statements started Wednesday morning in the competency hearing for Petetan. A McLennan county judge delayed the competency trial on Tuesday and told all the attorneys to make sure they were prepared to start on Wednesday morning.

During the competency hearing, the defense and the state both called an expert to testify. The two experts disagreed on whether or not Petetan can go to trial. Both interviewed Petetan after he was charged with capital murder for killing his wife in 2012.

The defense called a psychologist to the stand, who claimed Petetan is incompetent to go to trial. While the psychiatrist called by the state said Petetan is able to stand trial.

The defense has the burden of proof in the case and so called on Ollie Seay first. She testified for three and a half hours under cross examination by the state. In it, state's attorney Greg Davis questioned her reliability after testifying she's against the death penalty. Davis also asked multiple questions about how much Seay knew about how an IQ test was done. Davis questioned the reliability of opinions based off a test that was not administered by Seay.

The state then called on its own expert, a psychiatrist. He found after an interview and reading reports that Petetan is competent. The psychiatrist said Petetan was unreliable in his questioning partly because of a test question. He asked Petetan what NFL team is in Dallas and Petetan said he didn't know. The psychiatrist says most people know that answer and so the answer of no is questionable.

The state then called on a detective from Bryan PD who testified about his interaction with Petetan. The jury also saw a video of that interaction.

Two other pieces of evidence were also admitted by the state. These were a letter written by Petetan to his uncle and a phone call he made to his mother. The letter told his uncle that Petetan believed he was not guilty and he asked for help. He said he's in jail for something he didn't do and that someone was getting his daughter to lie.

Davis says the phone call, which will be played to the jury on Thursday, had Petetan telling his mother over the phone from the jail that his attorneys were going to get him into a state hospital.

The trial started Wednesday after a delay Tuesday. That's because the state did not have a copy of a report from the psychologist that said Petetan is incompetent. Judge Ralph Strother was not happy with the delay. This is because it could cost the county a lot of money.

That's because the two experts are being paid by the court. Petetan's attorney, Walter Reaves, is indigent meaning the court provided him. The experts were brought in yesterday, with gas paid, were paid hourly and did not testify. Their testimony can also cost hundreds of dollars. The court says they could've been done Tuesday, but they had to be brought in again on Wednesday. Another judge also had to be brought in to cover another trial while Strother heard no testimony on Tuesday.

The county does have a budget for experts, but they could have been paid a day less than they are. The court says they cannot say how much they're paying these experts, but a typical one can charge $250 an hour sometimes.

The trial recessed shortly before 6 Wednesday night and will reconvene at 8:30 Thursday morning.
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