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Despite outbursts, jury finds Allen competent to stand trial

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Denver Fenton Allen

Denver Fenton Allen

The jury deliberated the status of Denver Fenton Allen for slightly over an hour Tuesday afternoon before reaching their decision. The case drew national attention in June 2016 Allen and Superior Court Judge Bryant Durham got into name calling in a verbal exchange in open court.

After the jury was dismissed and was leaving the courtroom, Allen started calling them “trash” and claimed that one of them was a pedophile.

Allen was removed from his Floyd Superior Court competency trial Tuesday after disrupting the testimony of a state clinical psychologist shouting, “That bitch is committing perjury.”

Judge Billy Sparks had admonished Allen to remain quiet before the proceedings had even begun Tuesday. Judge Sparks told the jury the first thing they would hear were four reports from competency evaluations of Allen over the last year and a half which prompted Allen to shout, “They’re all false documents.”

Judge Sparks sent the jury out and told Allen, “If you speak out loudly and disrupt the proceedings, I cannot let you stay,” Allen remained quiet through the two hours of his attorney, Dan Morgan, reading the competency reports but couldn’t restrain himself when Dr. Mary DeCruise took the stand.

DeCruise testified that she and Dr. Audrey Courtney interviewed Allen in September. After a series of three interviews in September, DeCruise determined that Allen had the cognitive ability to work with his attorney. “I never had the impression that Mr. Allen lacked the capacity to assist,” DeCruise said.

Two earlier reports Morgan read found that Allen was not competent to stand trial. DeCruise played a role in both evaluations that resulted in the competency determinations.

A December of 2015 evaluation, done by Dr. Kiana Wright and Dr. Sam Perri, found that Allen was incompetent to stand trial. Defense attorney Morgan asked DeCruise if she had any reason to question their findings. “If that’s how he presented at the time, those were the findings,” DeCruise responded.

A second evaluation done in February of this year by Dr. Wright and Dr. Karen Bailey also found Allen incompetent. That evaluation noted that Allen, “presented with numerous delusions” and “he has no insight into his mental illness.”

Judge Sparks had ruled in April that Allen, accused of killing fellow Floyd County Jail inmate Stephen Rudolph Nally on Aug. 26, 2015, needed another evaluation of his competency.

DeCruise’s evaluation in September found that Allen had the ability to understand and assist in his defense and that his anti-social behavior and unwillingness to help Morgan were completely separate issues from his competency.

After the lunch recess, Allen was allowed to return to the courtroom but was removed by Judge Sparks less than 15 minutes into the testimony of forensic psychologist Dr. Norris Currence. “He’s lying. That (expletive) hasn’t talked to me in four months,” Allen blurted out loud after Currence testified that he spoke with Allen “quite frequently” at Central State Hospital.

Currence testified Allen had displayed in a “rational and clear” manner that he wanted to stay at the state hospital rather than go to trial and prison. The psychologist said Allen had told him at least a dozen times that he wanted to be hospitalized.

Morgan again pressed Currence on the different evaluations of Allen, suggesting the state mental health evaluators simply wanted to get Allen out of the hospital. Currence denied there was any pressure to move individuals out of the hospital. “The only pressure is to get them evaluated in 90 days,” Currence said, referring to the court-ordered time frame for the evaluation.

Morgan asked if the system functioned with the intent to return individuals to the court system for trial. “No,” Currence said.

After the jury returned their verdict, Judge Sparks said he wanted to schedule the trial for as soon as possible.