Brandon Council has been deemed competent to stand trial by a federal judge.
Bill Nettles, one of his attorneys, during a brief hearing Monday morning said that over the weekend Council was seen by a psychologist and psychiatrist, and determined to be mentally competent.
In a motion last week, the defense asked for a continuance so the evaluation could be performed. Council’s lawyers believed he wasn’t able to properly assist in his defense because of mental disease or defect.
Council's jury trial in federal court began last week. The Wilson, North Carolina, man is charged with gunning down Donna Major and Katie Skeen during a robbery at a CresCom Bank on Aug. 21, 2017. Major and Skeen both worked at the bank on 16th Avenue in Conway. Council was indicted on two counts in relation to the case; prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
The prosecution rested last Thursday after days of testimony from witnesses.
Council could be sentenced to death, if convicted. If the jury reaches a guilty verdict, the trial will reach a penalty phase. Jurors will decide if they want to pursue the death penalty.
The prosecution Monday spoke to Judge R. Bryan Harwell about concerns on what the defense plans to present to the jury if the penalty phase is reached.
Lawyer Everett McMillan said there was concern over presenting information on the mental health history of multiple members of Council’s family, which could cause jurors to believe Council might have been affected.
Nettles said there will be no testimony stating Council has been diagnosed with a mental health condition.
Rather than the formal attire he has worn to court for several days, Council appeared dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit during Monday’s brief proceedings.
Court will resume Tuesday morning.