A Little Rock man accused of fatally shooting a toddler in a fit of road rage last year was found competent to continue with court proceedings at a Monday hearing.
Gary Eugene Holmes was escorted by two Pulaski County corrections officers into Judge Barry Sims’ courtroom. The 33-year-old was committed in May to the state hospital for an assessment of his mental health.
Michael Simon, the hospital's supervising psychologist for forensic services, had written a letter to the judge asking Holmes to be sent from the jail to the hospital for inpatient analysis. In the letter, Simon said Holmes “presented himself as very depressed” and spoke of previous mental health issues.
Gary Eugene Holmes appeared, briefly, in Judge Barry Sims' courtroom. He was ruled mentally fit to proceed by the AR hospital. pic.twitter.com/4tZUZq9ZBk— Emma Pettit (@EmmaJanePettit) September 18, 2017
"It was my impression that he was simply being oppositional and passive-aggressive and that his performance, throughout the evaluation, could be better explained by personality factors rather than mental disease or defect,” Simon wrote.
Holmes’ defense attorney Ron Davis told the judge Monday that the state hospital had ruled his client fit to proceed. Davis changed Holmes’ plea from not guilty by reason of mental defect to not guilty. When asked by a reporter after the hearing whether he would challenge the state hospital’s findings, Davis said: “Stay tuned.”
Holmes faces charges of first-degree murder and committing a terroristic act in the shooting death of 3-year-old Acen Ameer King on Dec. 17, 2016.
Holmes is accused of firing a shot into the car driven by King’s grandmother near the intersection of Mabelvale Cut Off Road and Warren Drive. The grandmother told investigators she did not realize her grandson had been shot until she arrived at a shopping center.
Police described the killing as an act of road rage.
An omnibus hearing was scheduled for Jan. 11. Holmes' jury trial was scheduled for Feb. 13-15.
Read Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.