Friday, November 21, 2008

Murder Suspect Ruled Mentally Incompetent


Hernando Today

A judge ruled Thursday that a man suspected of fatally shooting his friend in the face is mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Circuit Judge Jack Springstead based his decision on the opinions of three separate psychologists and testimony about Joshua Langley's mental history.

Langley, who is charged with first degree murder, is currently on medication to curb hallucinations and has been previously diagnosed with a delusional disorder, his attorney, Candace Hawthorn, said during a 30-minute hearing.

He has also accused the prosecutor in the case, Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino, of being a Ku Klux Klan member. The normally unflappable Magrino sounded upset when he stated "for the record" during the hearing that he has never been a member of the KKK and he takes "great umbrage" at the accusation.

Hawthorn apologized on behalf of Langley and added by way of context that her client has accused her of being Hitler's granddaughter.

Springstead also took into consideration that the prosecution is asking for the death penalty should Langley be convicted in the Dec. 4, 2006, murder of Jacques Jones.

The judge stressed the importance of being "extremely cautious in every respect."

Magrino told the judge that he has seen no evidence of Langley's past problems, aside from a visit to the Harbor Behavioral Institute in 2004.

Two of the psychologists were certain that Langley was incompetent for trial, while the third had "serious reservations" about the subject, Magrino said.

That latter doctor has experience in the Florida Department of Corrections and can tell apart "career criminals with a violent history" and persons with mental disabilities, he said.

Court records show Langley has a local criminal history dating back to an arrest at age 15 on charges of aggravated assault and improper exhibition of a firearm. Other charges in his past include battery, false imprisonment and robbery.

Jones was shot in the face outside the home of Langley's aunt on Whitman Road, north of Brooksville. Authorities determined Jones had withheld money from Langley after a robbery and that Langley intended to "straighten him out," according to a report.

Hawthorne said Thursday that Langley has been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. The disorder is characterized by a dysfunctional disregard for concepts of right and wrong, according to

Langley was scheduled to stand trial the week of Oct. 13, but the morning of jury selection he decided to represent himself. Springstead ordered him to undergo psychological evaluation.

Another hearing is scheduled for December to make sure Langley is receiving the treatment he needs. After that, a status conference will be held every six months to decide whether Langley can handle trial.

Lavonne Southall, Langley's aunt, said after the hearing that she was glad that her nephew would be getting the help he had always needed.

Asked if she though Langley was suffering from mental issues at the time of the murder, Southall replied: "He had to have been."

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