David Earl Brown shot Whitt Bruney to death in Montrose in 2008, a case that garnered attention because, among other things, Bruney had built a panic room because of his fear of Brown.
Brown said the shooting was in self-defense, but a jury convicted him and gave him ten years in prison.
Now an appeals court has reversed the jury and ordered a new trial, saying a competency hearing should have been held for Brown after he tried to commit suicide during the trial.
Brown shot himself in the head after his side had presented its evidence, but before final arguments and the punishment hearing.
The judge told lawyers Brown "had voluntarily recused himself" from proceedings and told the jury "Mr. Brown is very ill, temporarily in the hospital. Therefore, he is unable to attend Court today. I am instructing you, each of you that you cannot consider his absence for any purpose whatsoever in your deliberations."
The 1st Court of Appeals has found the judge should have conducted a competency hearing on Brown once the suicide attempt was made.
"As he was in the intensive care unit of a hospital, all the evidence from the informal hearing supported a finding that Brown did not have sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer as a result of the gunshot wound," the court said. "At that point, the trial court was required to stay all proceedings in the case pending a competency examination and incompetency trial."
The panel ordered a new trial.
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