Prison psychologist: Fatal bank holdup suspect is competent - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Prison psychologist: Fatal bank holdup suspect is competent

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William Merriweather is accused of shooting four people in the course of a 2007 bank robbery in Bessemer. William Merriweather is accused of shooting four people in the course of a 2007 bank robbery in Bessemer.
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BIRMINGHAM, AL -

A prison psychologist argued that William Merriweather is competent to stand trial in a seven year old fatal bank robbery.

Merriweather is accused of robbing a Bessemer Wachovia Bank on May 14, 2007. During the holdup, four tellers were shot. Eva Hudson and Sheila Prevo died at the scene.

Four years later, Judge David Proctor held a two week hearing to determine if the Merriweather was competent to stand trial. It took Proctor 18 months to decide that Merriweather would, in fact, face a jury.

A trial date was set for January 2014. However, some new information surfaced about Merriweather's mental state, so Judge Proctor postponed the trial and scheduled a second competency hearing for this week.

The first witness was prison psychologist Dr. Christina Pietz.

She started off on Monday by telling Judge Proctor that after believing Merriweather was competent back in 2011, after seeing him again in 2013, she was not so sure.

Then she videotaped an interview with Merriweather in prison on November 27, 2013.

During the interview, when she asked the suspect if he remembered what charges he faced, he responded, "I think I am not guilty.  And because I think I am not guilty, I don't think there is a charge."

Dr. Pietz concluded by telling Judge Proctor that she felt Merriweather was exaggerating his mental condition and that she was 'very convinced' he was competent.

Later on Monday, defense attorney Derek Drennon cross-examined Dr. Pietz.

Drennon was able to get Dr. Pietz to admit that Merriweather showed signs that could be considered symptoms of schizophrenia.

Later, Drennon read dozens of prison nurse notes that referenced symptoms like hallucinations and poor hygiene that Dr. Pietz agreed do surface in schizophrenic inmates.

However, Dr. Pietz argued that non-schizophrenic inmates exhibit some of the same symptoms.

The competency hearing is expected to last all week.

If Merriweather's case does go to trial, he will face the death penalty, if convicted.

 

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