A Baton Rouge man accused of shooting a police officer last year was ordered returned to a state mental hospital Tuesday after he was found incompetent to stand trial for the second time in a year.
Eugene Thomas Jr., 35, is unable to understand the nature of the charges against him and cannot assist in his defense, ad hoc state District Judge Lou Daniel ruled after reading reports from two doctors.
The doctors were appointed in May to evaluate Thomas' sanity when he allegedly fired on relatives, a family friend and Baton Rouge Police Cpl. Shane Totty in February 2018. Totty was hit in the face by a bullet, shrapnel and glass when bullets struck the windshield of his police car.
Totty died this February when he was hit by a vehicle while escorting a funeral procession on his motorcycle along Jones Creek Road.
A Baton Rouge police officer has died from injuries sustained when a pickup truck plowed into his motorcycle during a funeral procession late …
During a brief sanity hearing Tuesday, lawyer Bruce Unangst, who represents Thomas, said doctors were not able to assess his client's sanity at the time of the offense because he wasn't compliant with them.
"I don't believe he's competent to proceed," Unangst told Daniel after the judge asked if he wanted Thomas brought into the courtroom.
Last August, then-state District Judge Mike Erwin, who has since retired, sent Thomas — who has a long history of mental illness — back to the state hospital in Jackson after doctors determined he wasn't competent to go forward in his criminal case.
A Baton Rouge man with a long history of mental illness was ordered back to a state psychiatric hospital Tuesday, a move that freezes his pros…
Thomas was returned to East Baton Rouge Parish Prison in October after doctors at the state facility found his competency had been restored. Erwin at that time ruled he was competent to stand trial, and Thomas entered a dual plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.
Daniel on Tuesday committed Thomas to the state hospital so doctors can attempt to restore his capacity to proceed. The judge scheduled a sanity review for Nov. 12.
Prosecutor Jermaine Guillory did not object to the judge's ruling.
An accused Baton Rouge cop shooter will be examined by two doctors to determine whether he was sane when he allegedly fired on relatives, a fa…
"His mental health is such that he doesn't understand what's going on," Unangst said. "We believe that the hospital is the right place for him."
He noted that Thomas has demonstrated in the past that he responds well to the right medication.
Thomas is charged with one count of attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer and four counts of attempted first-degree murder in the shootings.
He's accused of using a stolen handgun to shoot at three family members and a family friend on Thomas H. Delpit Drive. He then drove off and later fired shots at Totty on Lettsworth Street, authorities have said.
Thomas shot a man to death in 2002 because, he claimed, the victim was wearing his shorts. He was charged with murder but found not guilty by reason of insanity and ordered to be treated at the state hospital in Jackson. He spent about five years there.
Then-state District Judge Tony Marabella terminated Thomas' probation in October 2017, and he was released completely from state supervision for the first time since his 2002 arrest.