The man charged in the ambush-style murder of Harris County sheriff's deputy Darren Goforth has been found competent to stand trial, as the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday morning.
Shannon Miles was accused of shooting Goforth 15 times in the back while Goforth was at a gas station filling up his police cruiser in August 2015. The following February, he had been found incompetent to stand trial and was sent to a state hospital, where he would stay for 120 days to restore competency and undergo further mental health evaluations. At the time, Miles's defense attorneys said he suffered from schizophrenia and had a history of mental illness.
“We were unable to talk to him in any coherent manner,” his attorney, Charles Brown, said in February 2016, “or in a manner that would be beneficial to both of us so that he fully understands what's really going on and we fully understand everything about his case from his perspective.”
By November 2016, Miles was still considered incompetent to stand trial and sent back to North Texas State Hospital in Vernon. On Wednesday, State District Judge Susan Brown declared Miles to be competent, and Miles entered in a plea of not guilty before her, as the Chron reported.
Throughout the course of his case, Miles managed to illuminate the immense mental health bed shortage at state hospitals. To be sent to the state hospital, Miles was No. 61 on a waiting list of people needing to be transferred for mental health competency restoration, but waited months because all beds were full.
His case also managed to illuminate some super-weird stuff going down at HCSO that most hope, according to new rules that had to be made, is no longer happening.
Since fall of 2015, the case has essentially played out like a soap opera. First, then-sheriff Ron Hickman and then-district attorney Devon Anderson partially blamed national "rhetoric" surrounding police accountability in the shooting of unarmed citizens for the shooting, angering Black Lives Matter activists. Then, a few months later, one of the eyewitnesses of the shooting admitted that she was having a sexual relationship with Goforth — leading Miles's defense attorneys to argue he wasn't on duty at the time of the shooting since he was meeting the woman, attempting to skirt the death penalty for Miles.
Then, more sexual relationships — or a little-too-not-professional ones— between deputies and the same woman came to light: Hickman was forced to fire Sergeant Craig Clopton, who was an investigator on the Miles case, for having "consensual sexual contact" with the witness and several weeks later fired another deputy, M. DeLeon, for being "untruthful" about his relationship with the woman.
Hickman called it "a never-ending cycle of conduct that's embarrassing to every professional peace officer." Then he officially made it against HCSO rules to have sex with witnesses, just to make that clear.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.