Court proceedings for Brandon Council will continue after he undergoes a mental competency evaluation, according to court records.
In a motion filed Thursday, the defense asked for a continuance until Monday so that the evaluation can be performed. Council’s lawyers believe he isn’t able to suitably aid in his defense because of “mental disease or defect.”
Judge R. Bryan Harwell approved the motion for a continuance and found reasonable cause to hold a competency hearing.
The motion said, “Following today’s trial proceedings, Counsel for Brandon Council are of the firm view that a competency evaluation is necessary. At the present time, Brandon Council is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him and is not assisting properly in his defense. ... Counsel believe that their client is presently mentally ill and unable to proceed.”
Judge Harwell spoke with lawyers about the motion Friday morning. At one point, the judge talked with defense attorneys behind closed doors. The day's proceedings wrapped up before noon.
Council's jury trial in federal court began Tuesday. 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.
The prosecution rested Thursday after days of testimony from witnesses, giving the defense the chance to start presenting evidence.
Council could be sentenced to death, if convicted. If the jury reaches a guilty verdict, jurors will decide if they want to pursue the death penalty, which prosecutors are seeking.