CEDAR CITY – The defense attorney for a West Valley City man facing murder charges for allegedly shooting a Cedar City resident requested a competency evaluation in court Thursday while simultaneously continuing the preliminary hearing.
Defense attorney Doug Terry filed a motion April 19 requesting a competency evaluation for his client Mark Mair, 27, who is accused of murdering Justin Hanna in a Cedar City Trailer Park in July 2016.
Mair is facing first-degree felonies of aggravated murder and aggravated burglary. Additionally, there are seven counts of discharging a firearm – all third-degree felonies – filed against him in 5th District Court. He’s been in custody in the Iron County Correctional Facility since his arrest in August that came after a two-day manhunt. Mair was ultimately arrested in Grand Junction, Colo.
Mair was scheduled for an all-day preliminary hearing Friday but the proceeding was continued pending the outcome of the evaluation. Terry did not elaborate on the reasons for the evaluation but said these types of motions are common.
“This is just something we do as a matter of course,” Terry said. “In a case like this we’ve got to make sure that any mental health needs and issues are addressed and how it might impact the defendant’s culpability in this type of case. It’s not uncommon for that to be filed.”
The defendant is scheduled to return to court for a review May 23 following the competency evaluation that is to be given by two mental health experts. The outcome of the evaluation will largely determine the next step in the court process.
Mair submitted a letter to 5th District Judge Keith Barnes on April 17, requesting the court provide him another attorney for the case due to a “serious lack of communication” between him and Terry.
According to the letter, the defendant complained that Terry had not provided him with discovery.
“I do not know how I could possibly be involved in my defense without receiving all police reports and audio/video for the crimes I am charged with,” Mair said.
He continued with several other issues including not knowing whether his mental health history would be raised before trial.
“Your Honor, this is my life that is on the line and I want to know that I have a partnership with my attorneys,” Mair said. “I am very concerned that my attorneys are not doing their job. If they are doing their job, they are certainly not communicating it with me.”
Terry asked the judge that the letter not be addressed before he has an opportunity to discuss it with his client.
Terry also volunteered to represent Mair pro bono in a second case involving a second-degree felony for drug distribution.
According to the court documents, Mair was arrested in February while already in jail on allegations of distributing methamphetamine. Authorities state that Mair was involved in a controlled buy overseen by the Iron/ Garfield/Beaver Counties Narcotics Task Force in June 2016 – a month before the shooting.
During court Thursday, Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett also requested the court authorize the release of his primary witness for the shooting, Chandra Davis, who has been in jail since November.
It is alleged Davis was in bed with the victim at the time of the shooting. She later left jurisdiction sending authorities on a three-month search prior to her arrest in November for an outstanding warrant for drug distribution.
Davis’ case was settled earlier this month but the prosecutor continued to hold her in custody until after the preliminary hearing. Garrett said he is now obligated to release her.
Concerns remain, however, as to whether authorities will be able to locate Davis for testimony in Mair’s case. Garrett said he believes she will stay in the area.
“Her roots are in Cedar. Her family is in Cedar,” Garrett said. “Hopefully she’ll stick around.”
Davis is on supervised probation for the distribution charge.
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