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Mental Competence Challenged in St. Petersburg Murder Case

Bradley Bolden is accused of killing a private security officer at a St. Petersburg apartment complex last year. The officer was found shot dead near the apartment pool and tennis courts.

Lawyers are now arguing over whether Bolden may be too mentally retarded to understand the case against him. A psychiatrist and a licensed clinical psychologist have evaluated Bolden. A court hearing is set for Sept. 24.

Bolden’s defense attorneys assert that Bolden cannot understand the basics of a criminal trial. Prosecutors are not denying that Bolden may be mildly mentally retarded. They argue though that his disability is not so severe that he should be considered incompetent by the court.

The experts agree that Bolden is mentally slow, with an IQ as low as 62. One psychologist said Bolden seems aware that he has an attorney helping him, but “he says he doesn’t know the term state attorney, or prosecuting attorney, or the role.” A psychiatrist though found “partial malingering” in Bolden, believing he might be acting more mentally retarded than he really is.

The judge will hear testimony from each expert and will ultimately decide whether Bolden is competent to stand trial.

Competence to stand trial is different from an insanity defense. When a person claims to be not guilty by reason of insanity, the defense must prove a particular state of mind at the time of the crime. When a person is suggested to be incompetent to stand trial, the court will look at the defendant’s mental condition at the time of trial – regardless of his or her mental condition at the time of the crime.

The court shall grant a motion to determine the defendant’s competency (or shall order such a hearing on its own motion) if there is reasonable cause to believe that the defendant may presently be suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense.


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