THIBODAUX — A man accused of beheading his disabled 7-year-old son told a mental hospital guard that he was not worried about his trial “because I have a good family and a good lawyer. I’m on easy street,” according to documents read in court.
That statement doesn’t mean Jeremiah Wright, 31, is mentally stable or fit for trial, defense witnesses testified during the second day of a sanity hearing for Wright, charged with first-degree murder of Jori Lirette. The hearing is expected to end Friday.
Jori, who was fed through a tube and required round-the-clock care, was killed Aug. 14, 2011, and his head put in the yard of the house Wright shared with Jori’s mother, Jesslyn Lirette. According to a sworn police statement, Wright told police that Lirette had told him that morning she was evicting him.
Judge John LeBlanc ordered Wright treated at the state mental hospital in Jackson in October 2001.
That November, the guard made a note about the “easy street” statement. Wright acted irrational when he returned to the psychiatric ward after making that statement, according to documents.
Evidence could suggest that the “guard’s statements are what triggered the changing of (Wright’s) diagnosis” from incompetent in 2011 to competent nine months later, defense attorney Cecilia Bonin told LeBlanc on Wednesday.
“The guard says something, and they latch onto it,” Bonin said.
Defense witnesses have testified that when they examined Wright, he did not appear able to help his defense.
Doctors in charge of Wright’s care declared him fit to stand trial and sent him back to the Lafourche Parish jail last year after nine months of treatment.
LeBlanc must decide whether he’s competent for trial.
The first prosecution witness was Dr. John Thompson, chief of staff at the hospital. He said its guards are trained to interact with mentally ill patients and are considered “psych techs.”
Thompson said his facility is about at the national average, restoring about 70 percent of its patients to competency.
Wright, who would face either death by injection or life in prison if he is convicted, attends the hearings in handcuffs and a bullet-proof vest, watching without expression.