Jacoby Maize, who is accused of shooting a man to death in his Old Jefferson home in 2011 and setting the house on fire, was found Wednesday to be mentally competent to stand trial this month.
Maize, 38, told a court-appointed psychiatrist that various people — including his own defense attorney — had visited him in his cell in spiritual form, sometimes laying their hands on his head and making him forget things.
He has reported he has auditory hallucinations as well.
A psychiatrist who examined him, however, testified Wednesday that Maize didn’t exhibit the symptoms of someone truly experiencing hallucinations, as Maize said he was during a recent examination.
Psychiatrist Richard Richoux testified that it’s extremely difficult for anyone who is actively psychotic to carry on a normal conversation during a 40-minute exam, which Maize was able to do, despite reporting that he was hearing voices screaming in his head.
“We always take into account what people report to us, but we don’t necessarily believe it,” Richoux said at one point.
Attorney Cesar Vazquez, of the Jefferson Parish Public Defenders Office, noted that Richoux testified he had not reviewed Maize’s prior treatment history. He said the court should find the evaluation incomplete. He said there aren’t even sufficient records that Maize is taking the amount of Zoloft and Tegretol he has said he is.
However, 24th Judicial District Court Judge Henry Sullivan said that whatever Maize’s history, the issue is whether he is now capable of understanding the charges against him and assisting in his own defense.
Sullivan said there are no indications he isn’t fit, and he ruled Maize competent to stand trial Feb. 29.
Maize, who is from Kenner, is accused of shooting Justin Hendricks and then setting fire to his home a day after Hendricks called 911 because Maize was pistol-whipping his wife.
Firefighters responding to the blaze found Hendricks’ body lying near a back door of his Maine Street home. He had been shot in the stomach.
Maize is charged with second-degree murder, aggravated second-degree battery, aggravated assault with a firearm, injuring a witness, aggravated arson and two counts of being a felon with a weapon.
He faces mandatory life in prison if convicted of the murder charge.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.