VIDEO: Judge postpones competency hearing today for accused killer Damas

Competency trial postponed

Mesac Damas case is delayed again.

— A judge postponed the scheduled competency hearing for accused killer Mesac Damas on Thursday, citing defense counsel’s late receipt of a stack of records in the case.

Attorneys for Damas said they had yet to analyze 1,500 case documents they received Tuesday afternoon, most of them medical records.

Defense attorneys argued the records could be material to a competency, an effort to determine if Damas is capable of understanding and participating in his case.

The prosecution told Collier Circuit Judge Franklin Baker they merely forwarded one part of a larger stack of documents that were available to defense counsel at the Naples Jail Center in April. Assistant State Attorney Richard Montecalvo agreed to the postponement, “very reluctantly,” he told Baker.

“The fact of the matter is this case has stopped,” Montecalvo said. “And it shouldn’t be stopping.”

The hearing is now set for June 2 at 8:30 a.m.

Damas faces a potential death penalty on six counts of first-degree murder for the slayings of his wife and five children at their North Naples home in 2009.

The postponed hearing is the latest delay in the year-and-a-half old case. Among hold-ups, Damas’ attorneys have declined to conduct depositions before determining their client’s competency.

Baker again on Thursday pressed for depositions to begin in the case, particularly with professional or law enforcement witnesses such as forensic analysts and pathologists. Deputy Public Defender Kathleen Fitzgeorge again declined, but she attempted to reassure Baker that defense counsel was still working on peripheral aspects of the case.

Her team includes assistant public defenders Neil McLoughlin and Connie Kelley. Prosecutor Montecalvo was joined by Assistant State Attorney Dave Scuderi on Thursday.

Beyond procedural delays, Damas’ case is likely slowed by its own weight. Death penalty cases are complicated, and they receive great scrutiny after disposition. Judges have reason to tread lightly, for fear of creating an appealable issue.

A spokeswoman for the State Attorney’s Office later said the records in question have been available to attorneys at the jail. The psychiatrists who examined Damas would also be allowed to see the records, provided they have a court order.

The spokeswoman said prosecutors hand-delivered 1,000 pages of the documents to the defense on April 20, per discovery protocol. Defense attorneys then requested a second batch, of 1,500 records, be delivered earlier than protocol required. Prosecutors e-filed the documents on Tuesday.

“Again, these are copies that are always available at the jail,” the spokeswoman, Samantha Syoen, said.

Whether defense counsel knew the records existed is not clear; Fitzgeorge declined comment outside the courtroom.

Adding to the confusion of Thursday’s hearing, Damas repeatedly interjected as Baker and attorneys discussed matters. Upon entering the courtroom, shackled, he asked to speak.

Baker said he might let him speak at some point during the hearing, to which Damas replied, “You promise?”

The defendant resumed talking aloud minutes later, and he ignored repeated requests by Fitzgeorge and the bailiffs to remain silent.

“Sir, look at the judge,” one bailiff demanded.

“That’s no judge up there,” Damas responded.

Baker and attorneys finished the hearing by speaking over Damas, a difficult task given the volume of the defendant’s voice.

The judge gave attorneys three weeks to look through the discovery material. Three psychiatrists who examined Damas will also be allowed to update their reports in the next three weeks, Baker ordered.

© 2011 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 13

SoMuchOlderThen writes:

A bureaucratic red-tape and paperwork foul up adds another delay to another case.

Is ANYONE surprised by this ?

For God's sake, can we just get this over with already ? The guy WANTS to die. He's confessed.

Let's get to work, for his sake, for ours AND for God's.

Ghostrider19 writes:

in response to SoMuchOlderThen:

A bureaucratic red-tape and paperwork foul up adds another delay to another case.

Is ANYONE surprised by this ?

For God's sake, can we just get this over with already ? The guy WANTS to die. He's confessed.

Let's get to work, for his sake, for ours AND for God's.

It's times like this I long for the old days of speedy trials and a week before execution...Would someone please run on THAT platform...

TiredoftheBS writes:

Just a planned act set up by the defense to get him declared incompetent to stand trial!

Nastybull writes:

Tase him every time he opens his mouth.

donaldii (Inactive) writes:

This is such a mockery of justice! What ever happened to the speedy trial. No wonder people take the law into their own hands with a injustice system like ours.

SandnSurf writes:

in response to SoMuchOlderThen:

A bureaucratic red-tape and paperwork foul up adds another delay to another case.

Is ANYONE surprised by this ?

For God's sake, can we just get this over with already ? The guy WANTS to die. He's confessed.

Let's get to work, for his sake, for ours AND for God's.

Just because he admitted to doing the crime doesnt technically mean he did it. There are plenty of instances where someone has stood up to take the blame for something and through investigation it was determined that they infact did NOT commit the offense. Remember the serial killer in Gainsville killing students and a homeless guy came forward and claimed responsibility for it? Utimately it turned out he was not the guy.
Im not saying this freak of nature didnt do it, Im merely suggesting that guilt can not be hinged on an admission only.

pascoe059 writes:

judge baker more or less has no other court cases as well as montecalvo, so why not take up some extra tax payers $$$, they have nothing better to do,

joeblow writes:

Fry this maggot already so we can quit wasting tax dollars on this loser.

Rugers writes:

Why is this cockroach showing up to court without signs of jailhouse brutality on him? There should be bruises, blood and shive wounds all over this SOB. There should be no way he can sit on anything other than a large donut from the "lovins" he is getting in jail.

I am tired of my tax dollars being wasted on this non-human. Either cook him on an open fire or send him back with the rest of his kind in Haiti and shoot him in the airport just as he thinks he is set free.

rags123 writes:

The question of competency does not have to be decided now.
Doubt of mental capacity will be shown to send him to a hospital for the ciminally insane, and he will be tried or dealt with later for his crime of multiple murder.
Unfortuately, this will be the result, and immediate justice, as it is, will not be administered.
Too bad.

SandnSurf writes:

in response to pascoe059:

judge baker more or less has no other court cases as well as montecalvo, so why not take up some extra tax payers $$$, they have nothing better to do,

You do realize that Baker is one of two felony court Judges we have. Current there are over 1000 pending felony cases just allegedly committed in 2011 to date, not to mention all the pending cases from previous years. Divide that number in half and that is how many cases Baker has on his docket. Also, lets not forget that daily there are additional felony arrests. That is a huge number of cases for a Judge to deal with. We need more Judges on the bench so cases can be resolve quicker but with all the budget cuts, that wont happen.
Hope you dont end up in jail and want in front of a Judge ASAP for a bond....the soonest you could hope for is 2 months down the road.

cozyboy writes:

This poor excuse of a human being will probably live for at least another 20 years because of our crappy justice system. Whoever said it's still the best in the world.?

makinsense writes:

What a waste of time,energy,money,emotion.
He is on his way down under.

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