Where Do Mentally Ill Accused Cop-Executioners Go to Await Trial?

accused cop-killer shannon miles
AP File Photo: Pat Sullivan

The man accused of executing a uniformed Harris County deputy in cold blood, has been found incompetent to stand trial. Where are criminals who are awaiting trial kept after they have been found incompetent to aid their lawyer in their defense, and how long does it take them to get to the state mental hospital so they can receive mental health restoration services?

In February, Breitbart Texas reported that the man accused of executing Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth would not stand trial until he is found competent to do so. Miles is accused of unloading fifteen rounds into the deputy’s head and back.

Breitbart Texas reported from the scene of the murder and interviewed eyewitnesses in Houston shortly after Deputy Goforth was shot execution-style at the Chevron gas station in northwest Houston. Breitbart Texas has reported extensively about the Goforth case.

Miles has been charged with the capital murder of a police officer, a charge that could result in the death penalty, or life in prison without parole. According to the indictment, the motive for the killing was because of the deputy’s service as a member of law enforcement, as reported by Breitbart Texas.

Miles is waiting to be sent to a state mental hospital so he can be restored to mental health and competency. The defendant charged with capital murder will be tried once mental health experts and the judge, Judge Susan Brown of the 185th District Court, are persuaded that he can legally stand trial.

The state hospital in Vernon, Texas, was at maximum capacity and was not able to take Miles when Miles was found incompetent to stand trial. The facility is a maximum security hospital. Miles is presently being kept at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office jail.

ABC13’s Ted Oberg in Houston reported that Texas state senator John Whitmire (D-Houston) told the media outlet that “No one should be waiting. There should not be a waiting list for state mental health services. For the system to work you can’t have a backlog of people waiting to go to trial. It’s not good for defendants, victims, everybody.”

Breitbart Texas reported in mid-February that Miles’ attorney, Anthony Osso, filed a motion to stop his expedited transfer to a state mental hospital. Osso said he was advised that Senator Whitmire had “intervened in his client’s case and arranged for the expedited transfer of Shannon Miles to the state hospital thereby circumventing the normal channels and policies currently in place for the transfer of inmates from the Harris County jail to the state hospital.” Osso accused the Houston senator of using Miles as a “political pawn” in putting him on the fast-track for a transfer, reported KHOU television.

Miles is being sent to a state mental hospital for four months to regain his mental health, but when will he get there?

Oberg traveled to Vernon, Texas and saw the maximum security hospital first-hand. He reported that James Smith, the hospital’s CEO said, “Roughly 85 percent (of our patients) are referred back to court and we’re doing that in 95 days.” Read the rest of Oberg’s report at this link.

It is unknown when Miles will be sent to the Vernon state hospital because a bed has become available.  ABC13 reported that “As of May 16, there are 228 Texas inmates waiting for restoration services at the North Texas State Hospital. The state turned over records since 2006. The wait list has never been this long. It’s grown by seven percent in the last six weeks, and 20 percent in the last six months.”

The report contains a chart of the “Forensic and Maximum Security Wait List” from February 2006 to February 2016. Those in the latter category are considered dangerous because they have been charged with a very serious offense like capital murder, aggravated robbery, and crimes involving the use of a weapon. Forensic patients are waiting for competency restoration help so they can stand trial and they include those who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

ABC13 reported that Sen. Whitmire told the media outlet he would push for a new facility to be located near Houston. Twenty percent of the patients at the Vernon state hospital are reported to be from the Houston area.

Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2



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