Judge Maryann Moreno ruled Tuesday morning that Avondre Graham is competent to stand trial for the killing of Sharlotte McGill in May 2012.
Ruling that he was competent means that Graham, 18, will now stand trial on second degree murder, robbery and assault charges.
Sharlotte McGill was stabbed to death as she was walking her dog along the Spokane River in May of 2012.
Graham later told police after his arrest he allegedly attacked three victims along the Spokane River and Centennial Trail because he wanted them to feel the pain he was feeling.
After 16 months of tests and mental health evaluations it came down to Graham's intellectual abilities. With an IQ around 60, Graham's attorney, Tom Krzyminski, worried his client just isn't sharp enough to be able to assist with his defense.
“This is a young man who has an extremely low IQ, a difficulty in grasping what I would say are very complicated and complex issues in regards to a trial of this nature,”Krzyminski said.
However Dr. Nathan Henry, a forensic psychologist at Eastern State Hospital who interviewed Graham, said the teen does understands what's at stake in this trial and can help with the defense's strategy.
“When I asked him how the defendant had to plea in order to accept a plea bargain he correctly identified the defendant would have to plead guilty. When I asked him what would the defendant hope to get in the act of pleading guilty he said to get lesser time,” Henry said.
Citing several examples of case law where even more disabled defendants stood trial and their convictions were upheld, Judge Moreno made her ruling.
“I’m also satisfied that Mr. Graham is capable of assisting his defense so for those reasons I am finding Mr. Graham is competent,” she said.
“I think it's completely fair and just . It needed to happen,” Josh Gahl said.
Gahl is a former maintenance worked who chased down Graham after his last alleged attempted attack on a jogger. When he learned graham started crying after Tuesday's court decision, Gahl was less than sympathetic.
“Oh I have three sisters and a mother. I don't feel a lick of pain for him,” he said.
Now that Graham has been found competent, his trial will move forward and Gahl will serve as a witness for the prosecution.
If convicted as charged Graham faces a minimum of 20 years in prison.