Attempted murder case advances to preliminary hearing

ST. GEORGE – In a brief hearing in 5th District Court in St. George, Tuesday, the defense chose not to contest findings of a mental health expert declaring the defendant in a 2012 attempted murder case mentally competent, despite apparent reservations.

Craig Manwill Bennett, 33, is accused of attempting to kill a man with a shotgun on the night of Nov. 27, 2012. The incident happened at a trailer park in the Harrisburg community along Interstate 15.

The victim of the shooting, a 48-year-old man, was airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas by Life Flight. Bennett was subsequently identified as the alleged shooter, arrested, and charged with first degree attempted murder.

Bennett was originally declared mentally incompetent by two mental health experts in early 2013 and sent to the Utah State Hospital. The state facility takes in defendants declared incompetent and works to restore them to competency so their cases can move forward.

Bennett was declared mentally competent by another mental health expert and released to the custody of Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility in June 2014.

The defense had originally sought to challenge the competency results and was frustrated by delays in gaining a second opinion. Questions had arisen of whether or not the mental evaluation that declared Bennett competent was still valid, as the status of the defendant’s mental health may have changed since then.

“We are not going to contest the finding by the state hospital that his competency has been restored and rehabilitated,” Flint told the court Tuesday.

Flint said he plans to pursue a potential diminished mental capacity or other mental health-related defense for Bennett. Flint said his client has been dealing with mental health issues since childhood.

A preliminary hearing for the case was set for Feb. 2.

Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

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1 Comment

  • One for the road January 13, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Dang tweekers

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