Covering Louisiana

Aug 1, 2012 10:45 AM by AP

Doctors: Father competent to stand trial

THIBODAUX, La. (AP) - Doctors believe a Thibodaux man accused of decapitating his disabled 7-year-old son nearly a year ago is competent to stand trial, court documents show.

The Courier reports doctors have been treating Jeremiah Wright, 31, at the Feliciana Forensic Facility in Jackson for the past nine months.

A competency hearing is scheduled for Sept. 21, during which the prosecution and defense will call on expert witnesses to testify about Wright's mental state.

Doctors' results show that while he was being treated, Wright was exaggerating illness to avoid trial, according to court documents filed by prosecutors.

"They're talking about his current state of mind, and it has nothing to do with his state of mind during the alleged offense," said Kerry Cuccia, Wright's attorney. He will address those findings further in court.

Wright's lawyers have not entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. So far, they have only questioned his competency to stand trial.

Wright is accused of the Aug. 14 first-degree murder of Jori Lirette, who had cerebral palsy. The boy used a wheelchair and had to be fed through a tube.

Only a jury can decide if a person is guilty -- and should be sent to jail -- or not guilty by reason of insanity -- and should be sent to a hospital until he or she is determined not to be a threat, District Attorney Cam Morvant II has said.

After spending nine months at the mental health facility, Wright was returned to the Lafourche Parish jail about two weeks ago.

Wright was present at a Lafourche hearing Tuesday, held to confirm dates and deadlines with state District Judge John LeBlanc, Cuccia and Morvant before the Sept. 21 hearing.

Wright did not speak at the hearing, and police brought him in and out of the courtroom in a red prison uniform, shackles and a bullet-proof vest.

Wright is accused of decapitating and dismembering the boy. His head was found in front of Wright's home in Thibodaux by a passing driver, with the rest of his body in a white trash bag nearby, police said.

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