Denton County Judge Bruce McFarling declared a mistrial Friday when it was found that Seth Winder of The Colony -- who is accused of allegedly murdering and dismembering his lover in the man's Far North Dallas apartment -- hadn't been taking and/or receiving his meds. In fact, defense attorney Derek Adame even speculated afterward that he'd been completely un-medicated for most of the trial.
Unfair Park was sitting almost directly behind the paranoid schizophrenic, so the thought was a little unsettling.
It was the second time, actually, that Winder had been declared unfit to stand trial. This time, his attorney told us, Winder hadn't been receiving his morning meds at the Denton County lockup. There was also the possibility, he said, that he hadn't been swallowing his evening dose for "much longer." From Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday morning, everyone from the bailiffs to his attorneys seemed to notice a change in Winder. Adame described him as "catatonic."
"He's not been perceiving what's going on for a day, day and a half," he told Unfair Park Friday.
Winder is now off to the North Texas State Hospital in Vernon for treatment. Question is, will he ever stand trial? Attorneys on both sides seem to be split.
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Adame had serious doubts that his client would ever be coherent enough to assist his defense through an entire trial.
Denton County prosecutor Cary Piel is confident he will, perhaps sometime in late April. Of course, it's a rare thing: A defendant found incompetent for a second time -- and during a trial with less than two days to go, no less. "I've never even heard about that ever happening," he said.
A cursory web search reveals it has happened at least once recently in Dallas. A man with a history of mental illness killed a woman he mistook for his estranged wife. The judge declared a mistrial when he was deemed incompetent. He found him competent again shortly thereafter. Juan Seghelmeble asked the judge to sentence him, and he did: life in prison.
Winder, who lived in a tent on a vacant lot, was charged in 2008 with murdering Richard Hernandez, 38, after the victim's blood was found on his clothes. Investigators, who were shadowed by a crew from the A&E true crime procedural The First 48, also found that he'd been using Hernandez's bank card. But the victim's body, which is believed to have been disposed of in a nearby dumpster, was never located, nor was a murder weapon.