His family, defense attorneys -- even the bailiffs and the transport drivers -- noticed something was different about Seth Winder, who is standing trial in a Denton County court for allegedly murdering his 38-year-old lover Richard Hernandez in 2008, dismembering his body and disposing of him in a dumpster at the man's North Dallas apartment complex.
But Winder was not brought into the courtroom yesterday after defense attorney Derek Adame expressed concern that Winder may not be fit to assist the defense on the third day of trial. Adame said he'd learned that Winder had not been given all of the medication needed to treat his paranoid schizophrenia. He also learned that he'd been placed on a 15-minute watch -- sometimes ordered when a patient is a danger to himself -- by the doctor at the Denton County Jail Wednesday night, but didn't know why.
By late Thursday afternoon, Winder was evaluated and it was determined that the trial could tentatively resume this morning. But late last night, Winder was once again found incompetent to stand trial, which is why, according to Adame, Judge Bruce McFarling is preparing to declare a mistrial. The judge is about to bring in the jury and read his ruling into the record, at which point Winder will be transported to North Texas State Hospital's Vernon facility, where he will undergo treatment until he is deemed competent to stand trial again.
Update at 10:40 a.m.: Winder was "catatonic" during the last couple of days of trial. His attorneys suspect he's been completely unmedicated during that time, not taking his evening dose and not being given his morning medication. Said Denton County Assistant District Criminal Attorney Cary Piel, "He was faking competency."
Update at 10:55 a.m.: The judge just declared a mistral.
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Winder was initially deemed incompetent to stand trial in '08. It took three years of treatment at North Texas State Hospital in Wichita Falls before he was found competent. Piel said yesterday he believed Winder was still capable of standing trial.
The Colony man was charged with the murder despite the fact that investigators didn't have a body -- which they believe was taken to a landfill in the Dumpster -- or a murder weapon. But they did have blood on Winder's clothing, which matched samples of Hernandez's DNA. They also had witnesses putting him in the apartment complex.
The investigation was chronicled in the A&E true crime procedural The First 48. Winder, for his part, has always denied his involvement.