McGee ruled competent to stand trial

KINGMAN ­ Mohave County Superior Court Judge James Chavez ruled on Friday that Jack Darrell McGee, a man charged with first degree murder, had to appear in person at a hearing on Sept. 6, citing documents from the state hospital that concluded McGee is competent to stand a trial.

McGee, 22, allegedly admitted to Mohave County Sheriff detective Larry Matthews on Oct. 4 that he shot at Billy Dewayne Carlton Jr., Billy Dewayne Carlton Sr., and Jim Neal McGee. Billy Carlton Jr. died at the scene and Jim McGee was shot twice but the wounds were not fatal.

According to the coroner's report, Billy Carlton Jr. died from a bullet wound to his heart.

Along with the murder charge, Jack McGee was charged with two counts of aggravated assault and was later charged with drive-by shooting and discharging a firearm at John Carlton's residence on July 15, 2005. John Carlton is the brother of the deceased.

Jack McGee pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Oct. 21.

Under the requirement of defense attorney Carlene Lacy, who insisted her client might have mental problems and be unable to help in his own defense, Chavez agreed to send McGee to the state hospital for examination on Feb. 23, according to the court record.

After five-months of examination and observation, McGee was released from the hospital on July 26 and returned to the county jail. The doctor wrote a letter to the judge to confirm McGee is competent to stand trial. The content of the letter is not available.

Prosecutor Greg McPhillips said the judge's ruling removed one of the biggest obstacles in McGee's case, and enabled both sides to move forward with a trial.

The hotly contested topic at this point is not whether McGee committed those crimes, but whether McGee was mentally competent when he committed the crimes, McPhillips said.

The state has excellent evidence and witnesses, including two wounded victims, to prove McGee is the person who fired those shots, but in terms of mental condition, the state has to seek help from mental health specialists, McPhillips said.

He refused to give more details on the possible testimony from medical experts considering the case is still open, but hinted if the trial starts today, he is confident the state could send McGee to prison.

McPhillips did not rule out the possibility of reaching a plea agreement with the defense in the months to come, but said there is no such discussion going on between the two sides at this point.