Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tennessee Convict may be Re-evaluated for Competency

According to The Tennessean, Paul Dennis Reid may have his competency re-evaluated. Additionally, a petition has been filed with the Davidson County Criminal Court alleging that Reid had ineffective assistance of counsel during his trial for the murder of two restaurant workers. ("Lawyer says Reid is delusional", March 17, 2009). Here is the full article:

The attorney representing convicted killer Paul Dennis Reid is convinced the death row inmate is delusional.

During a post-conviction hearing in Davidson County Criminal Court, attorney Kelly Gleason asked that Reid's mental competency be re-evaluated.

"He thinks he's getting out of jail on June 1," Gleason said. "He thinks I'm an actress, not an attorney, and he's requested that I take him shopping at the Oak Ridge Mall for clothes, shoes and other hygiene products he might need once he gets out."

Reid was convicted of killing seven people at fast-food restaurants in Nashville and Clarksville in 1997.

Gleason, an assistant post-conviction defender, has represented Reid since August 2004 and maintains that he has never been competent.

"He was found in federal court to be incompetent," she said. "The state is choosing to ignore it."

But Davidson County Deputy District Attorney Tom Thurman argued that Reid had been evaluated numerous times and was found competent. The most recent competency hearing was held in May 2008. At the time, Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Cheryl Blackburn ruled that there wasn't enough evidence to show Reid was incompetent and that he should decide the course of his appeals.

In the courtroom Monday, both the defense and the prosecution declined to call witnesses for the post-conviction hearing, which centered on a petition filed by Reid in April 2003. In the case of the deaths of two workers at a Captain D's restaurant in Donelson, the petition argues that Reid had ineffective assistance of counsel.

Reid claimed to believe that he was under surveillance by secret government agencies and that his trial lawyers should have found the tapes that would prove his innocence.

He also claimed that his trial was not fair because the judge, the jury and all of the witnesses were scripted by the government to cause his death, the petition said.

Judge To Issue Ruling

Blackburn is expected to issue a written judgment in the Captain D's post-conviction petition within the next few months.

Gleason says if the petition is dismissed, she will appeal the decision.

Reid, dressed in a white Tennessee Department of Correction uniform and shackled at the wrists and ankles, sat quietly during the hearing. When it was over, Reid smiled and waved to several people before leaving the courtroom.

Since his conviction, Reid's execution has been stayed several times, most recently in 2006 when a federal judge intervened. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to lift the stay.

He is facing seven death sentences for killing seven people and injuring another in a 1997 crime spree in Middle Tennessee. He killed three people at a Nashville McDonald's, two at the Captain D's in Donelson and two store clerks at a Baskin-Robbins in Clarksville.

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