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Competency exam for suspect OK'd

by Lynn LaRowe Texarkana Gazette | August 26, 2019 at 2:16 a.m.

TEXARKANA -- Attorneys have agreed to allow a man accused of murdering his girlfriend in 2017 to be examined by a mental health expert outside of the state hospital system to determine whether the man is fit to stand trial.

Tony Earl Taylor is accused of murdering his girlfriend in Texarkana, hiding evidence in Texarkana, Texas, and burying the woman's body on a hunting lease in Ogden.

Mental health experts at the Arkansas State Hospital found that Taylor is not fit to proceed after concluding that his mental capacity limits his ability to understand the court proceedings or to assist his lawyer with a defense, both of which are required for a finding of legal competency.

Taylor, 59, is accused in the March 2017 slaying of Crystal Reed, 35, whose body was unearthed from a makeshift grave on property in Ogden by investigators after Taylor, they said, told them where to find her. He is charged with murder, abuse of a corpse and evidence tampering.

Forensic evaluation reports dated Oct. 25, 2017, and Aug. 17, 2018, say Taylor is incompetent.

A third report filed earlier this year by Dr. Benjamin Silber of Arkansas State Hospital Forensic Services agrees with the earlier findings that Taylor lacks the intellect to understand what is happening in a courtroom and may not be able to assist his lawyer in mounting a defense to the criminal charges he faces.

"It is unlikely Mr. Taylor will be restored to a state of fitness to proceed in the foreseeable future," the report states. "Given the available information, Mr. Taylor poses a low risk of dangerousness to self, others or the property of others."

The report notes that Taylor's lack of convictions for violent crimes is a factor in the low-risk finding.

The report states that it is possible Taylor is malingering, or faking, an intellectual deficiency.

"Furthermore, Mr. Taylor's A.S.H. psychiatrist informed me that after his 2018 evaluation with Dr. Matthews, he 'admitted to the social worker the next day that he didn't answer the questions right on purpose and pretended that he didn't understand.' This suggests he may have feigned impairment in the past," the report states. "This information was insufficient to dissuade me from my opinion."

Silber was on hand Friday morning to give testimony at a hearing before Circuit Judge Carlton Jones but was deemed unnecessary because both sides agreed. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kristian Robertson said the state is seeking a court order to have Taylor evaluated by an expert outside the state hospital system. Managing Public Defender Jason Mitchell said he did not oppose the request because he believes the law entitles the state to seek the additional opinion.

Jones said the state will make arrangements for Miller County sheriff's deputies to transport Taylor from the state hospital to the site of the outside expert once a date and place have been set.

Taylor remains in the state hospital.

He faces 10 to 40 years or life in prison if convicted of murder. If found guilty of abuse of a corpse, he faces three to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. If convicted of tampering with physical evidence, Taylor faces up to six years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

Bail is set at $750,000.

Metro on 08/26/2019

Print Headline: Competency exam for suspect OK'd


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