Goshen man may or not stand trial

Published 4:00 am Friday, July 24, 2015

A judge is expected to decide this week if a Goshen man charged with shooting and killing his teenage son is competent to stand trial.

Sammy D. Jackson, 45, was charged with one count of murder and one count of attempted murder after shooting his sons, then ages 18 and 16, on Nov. 9, 2013. The incident stemmed from a domestic dispute with his then wife, and the18-year-old died as a result of his injuries.

Jackson was in circuit court on Thursday for a hearing to determine his competency to stand trial.

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Dr. Allen Blotcky on behalf of the defense on Thursday, saying in his opinion Jackson was not competent to stand trial.

Blotcky said he evaluated Jackson in January, administering three different forms of IQ and cognitive tests. Blotcky testified that Jackson had scored in the “mildly retarded” range with an overall IQ of 58, but was in between “moderately retarded” and “borderline retarded.”

“Fifty-eight is quite low,” Blotcky said.

Blotcky cited at a combination of two things affecting Jackson’s ability to reason and to stand trial.

“There is the intoxication,” Blotcky said, referring to Jackson’s state at the time of the incident. “The other issue is this – it appears to me he has had a psychotic disease for some time.”

Blotcky cited a 2005 incident in which Jackson’s sisters sought professional help for his auditory and visual hallucinations. At that time, Jackson was prescribed an antidepressant as well as an antipsychotic medication.

According to medical reports, Jackson said he saw and heard dead family members as well as visions of the devil, all of which Blotcky said were consistent with major depression.

“He went a long period of time untreated,” Blotcky said. “He suffered from hallucinations and psychosis.”

Blotcky said it was likely because of Jackson’s mental capabilities that he might not be aware of when he was doing well and when he was not.

“He is not as aware of it as high functioning people … it does limit his ability for judgment and insight,” Blotcky said.

Blotcky said the report from Jackson’s 2005 doctor’s visit should have been a “red flag” for Jackson’s two sisters and other family members.

“Based on 2005, where they took him to the doctor … that’s a red flag,” Blotcky said. “In his case, it’s hallucinations. It’s hearing voices and seeing things. The alcohol abuse is a separate issue.”

Jackson admitted to Bloctky as well as Dr. Jeff McGowan, a forensic psychiatrist for the state of Alabama, that he had been addicted to alcohol since age 19.

Bloctky reported that during an office visit Jackson “smelled of alcohol” and admitted to drinking “two beers” the previous day. However, when Assistant District Attorney Jeff Moore asked Bloctky if it was common for alcoholics to “minimize” the amount they drink at one time, he responded yes.

Blotcky also said while the medications Jackson was taking at the time of his visit to Blockty’s office would present side affects when mixed with alcohol, he didn’t feel those issued had compromised Jackson’s ability to reason or skewed the results from the cognitive and intellectual assessments.

“Any affect of (his drinking) would have been miniscule,” Blotcky said. “But, I wouldn’t say that there was none.”

Blockty said Jackson is fit to assist council with his trial, stating he “lacks ability with reasonable understanding of facts and legal proceedings.”

McGowan disagreed. Testifying on behalf of the State, McGowan reported he visited with Jackson on Sept. 12, 2014, and used a 13-item assessment tool to determine Jackson’s competency.

McGowan, too, reported that Jackson seemed to be of “below average” intelligence, but said he had “no doubt” that Jackson “had the ability to assist his council.”

“Because a person is retarded, that doesn’t hinder the person’s ability to understand the judicial system,” McGowan said.

McGowan said it had been unclear whether Jackson’s psychotic issues stemmed from an underlying issue or his alcohol abuse, but he still was competent to assist his defense attorney.

Earlier this year, Carolyn Jackson had said she was disappointed with the decision to allow for another mental evaluation of Jackson, stating “Now, he’s trying to act like he’s insane, and we know he’s not insane.”

She was present at Thursday’s hearing and is set to be a victim’s representative for her oldest son should Jackson’s stand trial for the murder.

The ruling from Judge Shannon Clark’s office is expected to come some time today.

Should Jackson be fit to stand trial and assist his attorney, jury selection is set to begin Aug. 5 and pre-trial motions due by Aug. 4, which is also Jackson’s plea day should he choose to enter one.

Jackson was released on bonds of $100,000 and $50,000 in January 2014. Hours before his arraignment in February, prosecutors agreed to another mental evaluation.