Judge: Capital murder defendant James Calvert competent to stand - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Judge: Capital murder defendant James Calvert competent to stand trial

James Calvert appears in court. (Source: KLTV) James Calvert appears in court. (Source: KLTV)
SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

Editor's Note: The murder trial for capital murder defendant James Calvert continued Monday. Kim Leoffler is in the courtroom providing live coverage through 7OnScene; follow her updates here.

A judge in a Smith County capital murder case determined Wednesday that a defendant is competent to stand trial after hearing testimony from doctors.

Judge Jack Skeen Jr. said murder defendant James Calvert "has a sufficient ability to consult with his lawyer with a rational understanding."

He also denied a request by the defense to have a psychiatrist examine Calvert. Court was then recessed until Thursday morning.

The question of Calvert's competency was raised during the morning as trial proceedings began, with defense attorneys questioning whether their client had been examined in the past.

Calvert is is accused of fatally shooting his ex-wife Jelena Sriraman before abducting their then 4-year-old son Lucas and fleeing to Louisiana, where he was eventually arrested. Calvert had been acting as his own legal defense until his self-representation was pulled Sept. 15.

Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham said Calvert did not present any evidence to suggest incompetency but did not object to an incompetency hearing.

Defense Attorney Jeff Haas said Calvert was never examined to see if he was competent to stand trial, to which Bingham responded that Calvert isn't incompetent, just not a trained lawyer.

READ MORE: Calvert murder trial resumes with new defense attorneys

Judge Jack Skeen Jr. read opinions from when the defendant was examined by a doctor before recessing the court briefly. After, the State called Dr. Michael Arambula to the stand.

Arambula testified that Calvert met the requirements to be competent to stand trial. He added that Calvert has had recurrent depression and a personality disorder. He also has obsessive compulsive personality disorder traits, narcissim and antisocial traits. The doctor testified that he had not seen any evidence of Calvert's depression while in court and said that the depression never reached serious levels and has been in remission while Calvert takes medication.

He noted that narcissism and antisocial traits do not effect competency and said that Calvert had made mistakes representing himself but that doesn't mean he has a mental illness.

Arambula told the court that Calvert is an angry individual and has to take control of anything that would impact his life from his obsessive compulsive personality disorder. Because he feels Calvert has a rational understanding of the proceedings, Arambula told the court that Calvert would be considered competent.

He was then cross-examined by the defense briefly before stepping down and Dr. Edward Gripon was called to the stand.

Gripon agreed with Arambula's testimony and said personality disorders are not mental illnesses. He also said he does not believe that Calvert has ever been psychotic.

He said the defendant does have characteristics of paranoia, but that it was just his personality. After the defense cross-examined him, he stepped down and the State had no more witnesses to call.

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