Kalamazoo shooting suspect to undergo competency exam

Posted at 9:42 AM, Mar 03, 2016

KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Jason Dalton, the man accused of killing six people and wounding two others in a shooting rampage through Kalamazoo, is being ordered to undergo a mental competency examination.

Eusebio Solis, Dalton's attorney, told the court that Dalton does not appear to understand what is going on.  The judge has ordered Dalton undergo a mental competency exam with the Center for Forensic Psychiatry before moving the case forward. The preliminary hearing date has been rescheduled for May 10.

"Competency to stand trial applies only to a defendant's current state of mind and their ability to understand the court proceedings that are ongoing," said Prosecutor Jeff Getting during a press conference. "It has no bearing on a person’s criminal responsibility for a crime."

Getting met with the media at the Kalamazoo Public Safety Department and briefed reporters on the ongoing investigation.

"We don’t want to be moving forward in the criminal justice system against a person who doesn’t know what’s happening around them," said Getting.

Dalton will meet with doctors and other officials, Getting added. They will interview him and periodically submit  treatment reports to the courts.

"If he was found to be incompetent the forensic center makes a determination of whether or not there’s a likelihood of him regaining competency within the statutory time frame which is 15 months," said Getting. "Then an order is entered for treatment in order to bring a person back to competency."

He said investigators seized Dalton's cell phone during the course of the investigation and that they have access to its contents. He would not elaborate as to how they were able to get into that phone.

In the meantime, the two surviving victims of the Kalamazoo shooting rampage continue to improve in local hospitals. Both Abigail Kopf and Tiana Carruthers are in fair condition. Carruthers has begun physical rehabilitation in the hospital.