This is part II is a series. ( read part I)
Things were looking very bad for Dr. Charles Thomas Sell in 1998 when he went to federal prison on charges of conspiracy to commit murder. FBI agents had also obtained enough evidence to charge him with 56 counts of Medicaid fraud. It didn?t help matters when Sell shouted racial epithets at a black FBI agent during his preliminary hearing.
But, since then, flaws in the four main witnesses against him have been uncovered. Three of the witnesses have been shown to have fabricated testimony in other cases. The fourth, his wife Mary, agreed to testify against him only after signing a lucrative plea agreement.
Later, the issue of witness credibility took a back seat to an important legal issue as the Supreme Court had to decide whether the government could forcibly medicate Sell in order to make him fit to stand trial. The Justices ruled that Sell could not be forcibly medicated unless there was no other avenue to ensure his competence to stand trial.
Questions about Sell?s mental state have been raised for quite some time. For example, some have expressed concern that Sell believed that the government intentionally brought about the deaths of the Davidians in 1993 in Waco. Sell, a Major in the U.S. Army Reserves, was brought in to Waco as a forensic dentist, but was sent home shortly after the death of 81 Davidians without having performed any forensic analysis. Since then, he has made various conspiratorial claims about the federal government?s handling of the Waco tragedy.
As evidence of mental instability, newspaper reports have also alluded to his ownership of about a dozen firearms and rumors that he claimed membership in a white supremacist group. More to the point, court records show that Sell has seen imaginary leopards and believes that the FBI is trying to kill him.
However, Sell insists that he is mentally competent and can point to a perfect score on a competency test, which he took in 2002 in a Missouri prison hospital. The Supreme Court has guaranteed that Sell cannot be forcibly medicated unless other, less intrusive means of treatment have been exhausted. But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reported that Sell has spent a total of 20 months in solitary confinement. The Dispatch also says that he has had no exposure to any forms of treatment.