Men­tal eval­u­a­tion sought days be­fore man’s cap­i­tal mur­der trial

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - DAVE HUGHES

FORT SMITH — The at­tor­ney for a man sched­uled to go on trial in 10 days on a cap­i­tal mur­der charge in Van Buren is ask­ing for a men­tal eval­u­a­tion of his client, say­ing he may not be fit to stand trial.

Robby Golden with the Arkansas Pub­lic De­fender Com­mis­sion filed a mo­tion Tues­day in Craw­ford County Cir­cuit Court ask­ing Ran­dall La­van Jor­dan, 35, un­dergo ex­am­i­na­tion by doc­tors to de­ter­mine whether he lacks the ca­pac­ity to un­der­stand the court pro­ceed­ings against him or to ef­fec­tively as­sist in his de­fense be­cause of a men­tal disease or de­fect.

The mo­tion be­fore Cir­cuit Judge Mike Med­lock said there was rea­son to be­lieve Jor­dan wasn’t fit to pro­ceed to trial, but it didn’t state the rea­son.

Jor­dan’s cap­i­tal mur­der case is sched­uled to go be­fore a jury Jan. 23. If the mo­tion is granted, Pros­e­cu­tor Marc McCune said, the trial could be de­layed for two to three months un­til the eval­u­a­tion is com­pleted, or longer if Jor­dan is found men­tally un­fit.

Ac­cord­ing to Golden’s mo­tion, the state will seek the death penalty against Jor­dan. McCune said Thurs­day he hadn’t made a de­ci­sion on whether to seek death for Jor­dan and he told Golden the death penalty wasn’t off the ta­ble.

The pun­ish­ments for a cap­i­tal mur­der con­vic­tion in Arkansas are death or life in pri­son.

Jor­dan is ac­cused of beat­ing Larry Eu­gene Jones, 59, with an ax han­dle as he slept in his bed June 10. He died shortly af­ter in a Fort Smith hos­pi­tal.

Ac­cord­ing to po­lice re­ports, Jor­dan had been stay­ing at Jones’ ru­ral Van Buren home at 5305 Grand Ju­niper Road. But Jones kicked Jor­dan out be­cause he wouldn’t help around the house, help pay the bills or try to get a job, po­lice said. He still had keys to the house, po­lice said.

A woman also stay­ing at Jones’ home told deputies she woke up about 5 a. m. June 10 to the whin­ing of one of her dogs, po­lice said. She could hear some­one gasp­ing for air and went to check Jones’ room, ac­cord­ing to re­ports.

She told deputies she saw the shadow of some­one strik­ing down­ward with a large ob­ject, re­ports said. With each strike, Jones made a loud grunt­ing sound, ac­cord­ing to the re­ports.

Neigh­bors re­spond­ing to calls for help found Jor­dan stand­ing in the dark in the door­way to Jones’ bed­room, hold­ing the ax han­dle, po­lice said. A neigh­bor held Jor­dan at gun­point un­til deputies ar­rived and ar­rested him, po­lice said.

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