ST. GEORGE – A man charged with attempted murder will need to have his mental competency re-evaluated due to delays in obtaining a timely second opinion from a second mental health expert. Craig Manwill Bennett, 33, appeared in 5th District Court Tuesday as concern was raised over the current status of his mental competency.
Bennett was declared competent by Dr. Amy Bray at the Utah State Hospital in May after originally being declared incompetent in early 2013. He was subsequently released from the hospital and sent to the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility where he has remained since.
Bennett was arrested on the night of Nov. 27, 2012, for allegedly shooting a man with a shotgun at a trailer park in the Harrisburg community of Washington County. The victim of the shooting, a 48-year-old man, was taken by Life Flight to University Medical Center in Las Vegas in critical condition following the incident. Bennett was charged with first-degree felony attempted murder.
The defense filed a motion in August for a medical expert, one Eric Nielson of Salt Lake City, to evaluate Bennett and possibly offer a counter opinion. Nielson has not yet been able to conduct an evaluation.
The delay has caused frustration for some involved in the case.
“We have no idea if he’s still competent,” Deputy Washington County Attorney Ryan Shaum said.
Because of the time that has passed since Bennett’s last evaluation, Bray would either have to re-evaluate Bennett, or Nielson would, so the case could move forward.
“We need to find some way of speeding this up because even 30 days down the road makes that evaluation questionable,” Shaum said.
Present in the courtroom was Bennett’s mother, who Shaum said has traveled from northern Utah six times now and is growing frustrated with the lack of progress in her son’s case.
The court set a new competency hearing for Jan. 13.
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