Ben McClure, who is charged with murder in the October 2014 shooting death of 36-year-old Michael Arnold Johnson, was found competent to stand trial on Tuesday.
McClure changed his plea in August from not guilty to not guilty due to reason of mental disease or defect.
The mental evaluation was requested by McClure’s attorney, Robert Ray, who said he wanted the evaluation after becoming better acquainted with his client and learning McClure “has a significant mental health history” and receiving letters from him, both of which made Ray question his mental status.
At the August hearing, court documents revealed McClure had been committed to in-patient hospital stays on three occasions.
The mental evaluation was completed by a state psychiatrist appointed by Circuit Judge Jeremy Taylor.
On Tuesday, Taylor set McClure’s trial date for Feb. 1. Should McClure agree to a plea deal, if offered, his plea date is Jan. 28.
McClure is accused of having shot Johnson “several times” at his residence on county Road 578 in October 2014.
Following the crime, authorities secured a perimeter around McClure’s house and monitored movements until dawn the following day.
Negotiators made contact with McClure and over the course of two hours, were able to get four family members out of the house and finally convinced McClure to come out unharmed.
A search warrant turned up what appeared to be the murder weapon, which was loaded with a 30-round magazine and located near McClure’s sleeping area.
Evidence of the crime was allegedly recovered from the residence, as well as the vehicle used in the crime.
McClure remains in the DeKalb County Detention Center on a $500,000 bond.
Fort Payne Times Journal Reports