Travis Boys

A state judge declared Travis Boys, 35, incompetent to stand trial for murder in the 2015 killing of NOPD Ofc. Daryle Holloway on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. (OPSO)

OPSO

Pointing to an affectionate phone call authorities say Travis Boys made to a woman from jail, prosecutors plan to ask Criminal District Court Judge Karen Herman to reconsider her ruling that he is incompetent to stand trial for killing a New Orleans police officer.

However, while Boys sounds upbeat and attentive in the recorded call, it may not be crucial in proving whether he's capable of standing trial.

Prosecutors say the conversation suggests that Boys was feigning mental illness when he smeared excrement on himself and ate some of it in Herman's courtroom Wednesday during jury selection.

“In the phone call Mr. Boys is clearly aware of the circumstances going on in his case, makes reference to when he will be released, as well as the possible inability to call his girlfriend once he goes to the hospital,” Assistant District Attorney Inga Petrovich said in a motion.

Prosecutors attempted to file the motion in Herman's court on Friday but were unsuccessful. They plan to file it on Monday.

Boys' defense attorneys said the call shows the opposite of what prosecutors assert.

"Travis Boys’ recorded jailhouse call reflects the same delusional, impaired thinking that has animated our concerns about his competency to stand trial," attorney Billy Sothern said.

Separately, the Louisiana Supreme Court on Saturday denied a request from prosecutors to review Herman's decision. The only dissent was from Justice Greg Guidry. 

The court also declined a request to put Herman's ruling on hold. It's not clear whether that decision will prevent prosecutors from filing the motion about the phone call with Herman.

Boys, 35, is accused of fatally shooting New Orleans Police Officer Daryle Holloway as Boys was being transported to jail in June 2015. He then escaped and remained on the loose for 24 hours.

He faces life in prison if convicted as charged of first-degree murder. His case was poised to go to trial Monday before the feces incident.

The bizarre courtroom display spurred Herman to hold an emergency mental competency hearing Thursday. Four doctors weighed in on whether the feces consumption was a ploy to avoid trial or a legitimate sign of mental illness.

Two doctors testifying for the defense said that while they could not be sure what the feces incident meant, Boys seemed bewildered by his case. “I don’t think he’s even focused enough to maintain much of anything that’s going on around him,” said Dr. Brad McConville.

The doctors testifying for the defense also pointed to Boys' low IQ scores, his family's history of schizophrenia and a 2014 incident in which he jumped through a second-floor window.

Throughout the hearing, Boys kept his head sunk into his chest and seemed inattentive as psychiatrists and lawyers discussed his fate. Sothern pointed to his courtroom demeanor as further proof of his incompetence.

Herman sided with the defense and ordered Boys sent to the state mental hospital in Jackson to be restored to competency, by forced medication if necessary.

Hours later, Boys placed a phone call to his “girlfriend” from another inmate’s jail telephone account, according to prosecutors. The New Orleans Advocate obtained a recording of the call through a law enforcement source.

The call starts off with a rhapsodic declaration of love.

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“I’m like, what this woman doing, what this woman doing? Does she know how much I love her though? Does she know how much I’m in love with her? Does she know how much she means to me? Does she know what she makes me feel, what she makes me do, what she makes me wanna do? What she makes me love to do?” the man identified as Boys says on the tape.

For a quarter of an hour, the maximum length of calls from the Orleans Justice Center, the man and the woman discuss their relationship, her relatives and his future prospects. The call, which is hard to decipher at points, also contains apparent references to Boys' competency issues.

“They been worried about me?” the man asks at one point.

“Yes, of course,” the woman replies. “They really been worried, since we saw the news.”

At another point the pair discuss what they will do if they are cut off from communicating.

“If it comes time where, you know, we don’t talk … I love you, baby,” the woman says.

“It’s like you know, medication, you know, that’s something serious,” the man says soon afterward.

Boys is still married to another woman, whose call to 911 alleging that he shot a gun at her precipitated his arrest on June 20, 2015. He was being transported to jail on an aggravated assault count when he shot Holloway, according to police.

Boys’ wife filed for divorce this year.

Sothern, Boys' defense attorney, said the jail call underlines his arguments in court that Boys is disturbed.

"Far from providing a basis for reconsidering the court’s ruling, which was upheld by both the 4th Circuit and the Supreme Court, the recording reflects Mr. Boys’ intellectual disability, mental illness and his clear inability to understand the legal proceedings in this incredibly serious case," Sothern said.billy so

"At no point in the recording did he say anything to suggest that any of his recent bizarre and troubling behavior in court was in any way feigned and instead stated in the call that he needs to get on medication," he added.

Although prosecutors plan to ask Herman to reconsider her decision declaring Boys incompetent, she seems unlikely to do so based on her statements thus far. In a written opinion on Friday, Herman outlined the unusual circumstances — including the feces incident — that led her to rule Boys unready for trial.

"Given the severity of these charges and everyone's desire to try this case only once, this court has decided to err on the side of caution," Herman said.

Follow Matt Sledge on Twitter, @mgsledge.

msledge@theadvocate.com | (504) 636-7432