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 prosecution on charges that he fired shots at his family and a police officer in February, seriously wounding the officer.
Two psychiatrists who examined Eugene Thomas Jr., 34, found he is not competent to go forward in the criminal case. State District Judge Mike Erwin followed their recommendation and ordered Thomas transferred to the state mental hospital in Jackson to see if his competency can be restored.
Eugene Thomas Jr. shot and killed a man in 2002, later telling police he pulled the trigger because the victim was wearing his shorts. Thomas …
Thomas, who relatives have said was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and depression many years ago, shot and killed a man in 2002 because he said 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. He spent about five years at that facility.
“Eugene has a long history there. They’re familiar with him,” Thomas’ attorney, Bruce Unangst, said Tuesday outside Erwin’s courtroom.
Unangst said it has been shown in the past that with the correct medication, Thomas’ mental competency can be restored.
Then-state District Judge Tony Marabella terminated Thomas' probation in October and he was released completely from state supervision for the first time since his 2002 arrest.
Then came the February incident on Thomas H. Delpit Drive in which Thomas allegedly shot at three of his family members and a family friend with a stolen handgun. He then drove off and later fired rounds at officer Shane Totty on Lettsworth Street. Totty was struck in the face by a bullet, shrapnel and glass. The shooting left three bullet holes in the windshield of his police car.
Baton Rouge police officer Shane Totty, who was shot by a mentally ill man this past Sunday, was released from Our Lady of the Lake Hospital o…
Thomas is charged with one count of attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer and four counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Unangst said the doctors who examined Thomas after the February incident were not asked to determine whether he was sane at the time of the offense. Doctors can continue trying to restore Thomas’ competency, Unangst said, or he could be committed to the state hospital indefinitely.
Erwin will review Thomas’ progress on Feb. 7.
The mentally ill man accused of shooting into a marked police unit Sunday, and severely injuring a Baton Rouge police officer, had used a stol…