Judge determining if murder suspect competent to stand trial

SPOKANE, Wash. - Avondre Graham competency hearing vo

A Spokane judge will decide if teenage murder suspect Avondre Graham is competent to stand trial.

Graham, 18, is suspected of stabbing Sharlotte McGill to death as she walked her dog along the Spokane River back in May of last year.

This 16 month old murder case has been delayed by graham's mental health evaluations as, almost a year ago, the court found good reason to postpone Graham's trial. Before the killing, Graham was hospitalized several times for depression and was supposed to be taking court-ordered medications at the time of the killing.

There's little doubt that Graham is a troubled young man. When he was eight-years-old tests found graham was mildly mentally disabled. Doctors say his mental health problem got worse as he got older and he acted out his frustrations about not being able to deal with his disabilities.

Graham told police he attacked three alleged victims along the river or Centennial Trail because he wanted them to feel the pain he was feeling.

"Multiple hospitalizations due to behavior problems, mood disregulation, particularly depression and suicidal ideation," Dr. Nathan Henry at Eastern State Hospital said.

While Eastern State doctors say Graham has his issues they also say testing has shown he is capable of understanding his trial and assisting with his defense.

"That's the portion of the ECSTR where you look at the person's understanding and appreciation of the charges of the courtroom proceedings, of the primary figures in the courtroom and what they do," Henry said.

Graham's defense attorney says it's not his client's mental health problems that concerns him but rather Graham's mild mental disability.

"This is a young man that has an extremely low IQ, a difficulty grasping what I say are very complicated and complex issues in regards to a trial of this nature and that he is not competent to stand trial your honor as he sits here today," Graham's public defender, Tom Krzyminski said.

Judge Maryann Moreno is taking one last look at her notes from the testimony she heard in Graham's competency hearing and will render her decision about his competency Tuesday morning.

If Moreno decides Graham is not fit for trial he'll likely start doing time at Eastern State Hospital, where doctors will try to restore his competency.

If Moreno rules he is capable of assisting his defense then Graham will; stand trial on second degree murder, robbery and assault charges.