A mental evaluation deemed an eight-time parole absconder charged with capital murder fit to proceed to trial, and he won't challenge the finding, the suspect's attorney said during a court appearance Tuesday.
Darrell Dennis was back in Pulaski County Circuit Court on Tuesday after the evaluation, which was requested earlier this year by prosecutors.
Dennis spoke only briefly during the couple-minute appearance before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza, saying he wanted an opportunity to address the court on various petitions he has filed before the scheduled Sept. 22 start of his trial. Dennis has previously asked Piazza to allow him to represent himself and asked for an evidentiary hearing that he said would clear him.
Piazza said Dennis' petitions would be taken up at a pretrial hearing set for next month so long as prosecutors were made aware of what issues Dennis will bring up.
In addition to the capital-murder charge, Dennis is charged with kidnapping and aggravated robbery in the May 10 death of 18-year-old Forrest Abrams.
Dennis was arrested less than 30 hours after his release from the Pulaski County jail, where he had been held on an absconder warrant. A June 17, 2013, article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette revealed the lengthy parole-violation history of Dennis before his arrest, sparking a systemwide review of the state parole system that in turn led to a change in leadership and numerous policy shifts.
That in turn has led to a major backlog of state inmates being housed in county jails, including Pulaski County's. Overcrowding has caused that facility to shut its doors to offenders charged with nonviolent, minor offenses, first for about six weeks beginning April 29 and again in an ongoing stretch that began July 1.