The N.C. Court of Appeals has denied Demeatrius Montgomery’s appeal in the murders of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton.
In a ruling filed this morning, the court found that Montgomery was competent to stand trial.
Montgomery, now 30, was convicted in September 2010 of two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to two consecutive life prison terms. Shelton, 35, and Clark, 34, both were shot in the head in 2007 at the Timber Ridge Apartments in east Charlotte.
Montgomery’s attorneys for his appeal argued in court documents that Judge Forrest Bridges erred in ruling that Montgomery was competent to stand trial. Montgomery’s trial lawyers had told the judge that their client would not talk to them and help in his defense.
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"Mr. Montgomery’s failure to communicate was the irrational byproduct of his mental illness, which rendered him unable to rationally and reasonably assist in his own defense,” attorneys for his appeal argued in court documents.
But Special Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Babb said Montgomery got a fair trial and urged the appeals court judges to uphold the verdicts. "None of his rights were violated, " Babb wrote.
A year before the trial, Superior Court Judge Albert Diaz rejected Montgomery’s attempt to be declared incompetent.
The defense had two psychiatrists and a psychologist who testified that Montgomery probably suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and is incompetent to stand trial because he can't assist in his defense.
But Assistant District Attorney Beth Greene told the judge that Montgomery had made 639 telephone calls from the jail during the first year after his arrest. Prosecutors had more than 26 hours of the murder suspect's tape-recorded conversations.
Diaz, in his order declaring Montgomery competent, wrote, "I believe that defendant can assist in his defense in a rational or reasonable manner, but is simply choosing not to."
Staff Writer Gary L. Wright contributed.