A Mahoning County Common Pleas Court judge ruled Tuesday that the 21-year-old Youngstown man accused of murdering an 8-year-old boy is competent to stand trial in the capital case.
Judge R. Scott Krichbaum made the ruling in the case of Shawn Wilson, who is set to be tried Jan. 14 on an aggravated-murder charge with death-penalty specifications.
The ruling was based on a six-page report from psychiatrist Dr. Anil Nalluri, who noted that Wilson has the ability to consult with his attorneys, understands the charges and is competent to stand trial.
Atty. Robert Andrews, an assistant county prosecutor, and defense attorneys Ronald Yarwood and Edward Hartwig did not present any other evidence on the question of competency.
Wilson is accused of indiscriminately shooting into an East Side residence Aug. 20 and fatally wounding Bryce Linebaugh, who was sleeping in his bunk bed.
During the hearing, the judge made it clear that any case negotiations, such as a plea agreement, must be resolved on or before a Jan. 7 pretrial hearing. Trial is set for Jan. 14.
The court will “see to the prompt and efficient administration of justice in this case,” Judge Krichbaum said.
Next week, the court will have a hearing to address several motions filed by the defense relating to mental-health arguments, use of the victim’s photos in court, access to DNA evidence and mitigation.
Mitigation usually relates to sentencing, especially in death-penalty cases, with the purpose of examining mitigating factors that impacted the defendant’s life.
The court already has approved Donald McPherson and Dr. Sandra McPherson, a clinical psychologist, assisting with the defense, to meet with Robert Wilson, Shawn’s father, who is at the Trumbull Country Correctional Institution serving a 15-year-to-life sentence in the 1992 shooting death of 25-year-old Tonya Wilson, Shawn’s mother.
In 2008, Sandra McPherson was hired by Michael Davis’ defense team, which included Yarwood, and testified to mitigating factors in that case.
Davis, of Youngstown, was facing the death penalty, but jurors recommended life in prison with eligibility for parole after 30 years on each of his six murder convictions relating to a fatal fire on the city’s East Side that killed six people.
Judge Krichbaum sentenced Davis to 310 years in prison. Judges can override a jury decision for death but cannot override if jurors vote against death, according to Vindicator files.