Psychologists find man who killed Florida teen competent
Apr 7, 2022, 4:57 AM | Updated: 5:05 am
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Two psychologists have found a homeless man accused of fatally stabbing a Florida teenager competent to stand trial.
Their findings were announced Wednesday by Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Charles Burton, who oversees the court’s mental health division. He said a hearing will be scheduled in the next several weeks so the psychologists can be questioned by prosecutors and the defense lawyers for Semmie Williams.
Williams is accused of killing 14-year-old Ryan Rogers on Nov. 15. The teenager went out for a bike ride that evening and never returned home, police said. His body was found the next day alongside an Interstate 95 overpass.
Court records show Rogers was stabbed numerous times in the head. The records say Williams’ DNA was found on a pair of headphones at the scene and that Rogers’ blood was found on a bandana Williams had in his backpack when he was found. Investigators say Williams also matches the description of a man videotaped by a security camera walking toward the area where the body was found about 10 minutes before the boy’s cellphone stopped moving.
The psychologists reports were not yet publicly available. Psychologist Adam White, who along with psychologist Stephen Alexander interviewed Williams, told the Palm Beach Post he was prohibited from discussing their findings without a court order.
Defense attorneys have said in court documents that Williams suffers from “long-standing and persistent mental illness” and had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
After his arrest in December, Assistant Public Defender Scott Pribble asked for Williams to be examined by psychologists and voiced confidence he would be found incompetent to stand trial, the newspaper reported.
“Because of his severe mental illness, he appears unable to testify relevantly, to disclose to counsel facts pertinent to the proceedings at issue, or to otherwise meaningfully participate in and aid counsel,” Pribble wrote in early February.
Pribble said then it was critical to determine Williams’ competency because prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.
If he is found competent to stand trial, his lawyers could still use an insanity defense.
“Competency to stand trial doesn’t mean you’re not crazy,” defense attorney Fred Susaneck, who is not involved in the case, told the Post. “It just means you can assist your counsel and help in your defense.”
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