Jury: Tulsa courthouse suspect mentally competent

AP News
Posted: Aug 15, 2012 2:45 PM
Jury: Tulsa courthouse suspect mentally competent

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A man accused of opening fire outside a Tulsa courthouse is mentally competent to stand trial, a jury found Wednesday, despite pleas from his father that his son is a paranoid schizophrenic who needs hospital treatment, not a maximum-security prison.

The six-member jury took just 15 minutes to find Andrew Dennehy, 24, mentally fit to face charges of shooting with intent to kill and firearms counts. Dennehy is accused of shooting March 7 in the plaza between the Tulsa County courthouse and the Tulsa Central Library, injuring a sheriff's deputy and a bystander. Dennehy was also hurt during the gunfire exchange.

A preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 17.

Dennehy's attorney, Allen Smallwood, argued that his client had bizarre thoughts and suffered delusions so severe that he was unable to assist in his own defense. But prosecutor Tony Evans told jurors Dennehy was bluffing.

"The state believes this was an attempt to skirt the responsibilities of what he did," Evans said outside the courtroom after the hearing. "I personally think it's an act."

Smallwood, who was not immediately available for comment, told jurors that Dennehy thought he was being followed by the Illuminati, and believed the 18th century secret society and others were conspiring to instigate war with true Christians. He also believed the Illuminati were going to kill Christians in vast caverns under Denver International Airport, Smallwood told jurors.

Retired radiologist Dan Dennehy, Andrew's father, relayed a timeline of odd behavior that has plagued his son since the age of 4.

Dan Dennehy testified that his son had "difficulties early on with obsessive thoughts." Andrew spent sleepless nights worrying about minor issues, such as the possibility of breaking a pencil, and started pulling out his hair in fifth grade, he said.

Before the shooting, Andrew Dennehy had "fixed and dilated" eyes, and covered his bedroom walls with graffiti about the Illuminati, the father said, adding that he is "100 percent certain" his son suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. He did not say if Andrew Dennehy has been independently diagnosed.

"He is in solitary and has no human contact. It's freezing cold, he has a metal bed," the elder Dennehy said. "I'm worried about those very conditions affecting his mental health."

But witnesses for the state, including one of Andrew's best friends, testified that while Dennehy related conspiracy theories, he had never acted out because of them. Evans said recorded phone calls Dennehy made from the Tulsa jail revealed a more reserved personality, and that he only briefly mentioned the Illuminati and other groups.

"When you don't have anything left to claim, you claim crazy," Evans told jurors in closing remarks at the hearing that began Monday.

Dennehy, dressed in orange jail scrubs, meanwhile covered part of his face with his hand. After the verdict was read, he was stone-faced as he was led from the courtroom in shackles.