Accused killer found mentally unfit for trial

SimmonsA Circuit Court judge has ruled that Michael Anthony Simmons, accused of shooting his wife and her four children two years ago, won't stand trial because he is mentally unfit. Simmons has been diagnosed with dementia, and his lawyers say he suffered a stroke in jail that left him unable to comprehend that he is in jail or facing a trial, nor can he remember the crimes he allegedly committed. He is expected to be placed in a secure mental treatment facility.

From The Post and Courier:

Simmons' erratic behavior, coupled with a diagnosis of dementia, led Circuit Judge Kristi Harrington to determine that he is mentally unfit to stand trial in the killings of his wife and her four children in 2006.

The decision sparked angry reactions from relatives of the victims, who are convinced that Simmons is putting on a show to escape prison time for shooting to death 39-year-old Detra Rainey and her children, ages 6 to 16, inside their North Charleston mobile home.

"He's playing a game, that's all it is," Charles Thompson, Rainey's brother-in-law, said as left the courtroom.

From Live 5 News:

"The law says if he's not competent to assist in his own defense that I can't try him, so at this point he's in the hands of a psychiatrist and they're pretty much driving the bus," Chief Deputy 9th Circuit Solicitor Bruce Durant said.

Police say in September 2006, Simmons gunned down his wife, 39 year old Detra Rainey and her four kids in their North Charleston mobile home and then sat on their porch for several hours.

Durant says the ruling is a blow to the victims' families. "I could probably count on one hand the times this has happened to me in 25 years and never in a case of this magnitude," Durant said.

From ABC News 4:

Medical experts for both the prosecution and the defense agree Simmons is mentally unstable. But an evaluation held within a week of the murders found Simmons was coherent at the time of the crime.

"Number one, I'm skeptical of psychiatry in general. Secondly, I'm skeptical because this was something that developed while he was incarcerated," said DuRant.

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