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Doctors okay mental condition of suspect charged with murder

In Arkansas criminal prosecutions, there are often cases where the defendant admits to the alleged behavior but the case turns on whether there was a defense to it or whether the defendant acted with criminal intent to commit the crime. Additionally, some criminal cases may turn on whether the defendant is actually guilty of a lesser crime than the one charged, such as when there is an issue over the different degrees of murder. Perhaps not quite as common is the case where the defendant denies being involved at all in any of the activity charged.

A resident of a homeless center in Arkansas was arrested on second-degree murder charges in connection with the death of a man killed in the homeless camp in January. Recently, the suspect was declared competent to stand trial by doctors at the Arkansas State Hospital. He is accused of killing a 53-year-old male who was found dead on Jan. 4 in a wooded area that was part of the camp.

According to the doctors' report, the defendant has indicated that he does not intend to use a defense raising the issue of his mental state, and that he is instead totally innocent of killing the victim. The victim's death has been ruled to have been a homicide by use of a blunt force. The prosecution claims that there is evidence that the accused was in a fight with the victim prior to his death, but the defendant totally denies having an altercation with him and denies being near the crime scene at all.

What seems to be shaping up is a trial where the defendant denies all knowledge of the crime. The forensic evidence and witness testimony may contradict the defendant's story and may be sufficient to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the second-degree murder charge as defined under Arkansas law. It will be up to the jury to determine the believability of each witness and the weight to be given to each piece of evidence, and to decide the ultimate question of whether the prosecution met its burden of proof.

Source: arkansasonline.com, "Dickson fit for trial in homeless camp death", Ron Wood, May 15, 2015

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