Man charged with killing black men set for mental evaluation

Crime

Kenneth Gleason, 25, charged with second-degree murder in the Sept. 12, 2017 death of Bruce Cofield and first-degree murder in the death of Donald Smart days later.

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Two Louisiana doctors will examine a man accused of fatally shooting two black men and determine whether he is mentally competent to stand trial.

State District Judge Beau Higginbotham also ordered the doctors to determine whether Kenneth Gleason, 25, was sane during the suspected shooting, The Advocate reported.

Gleason, a white man, was charged with second-degree murder in the Sept. 12, 2017 death of Bruce Cofield and first-degree murder in the death of Donald Smart days later.

He’s also charged with two counts of attempted second-degree murder for allegedly shooting into the home of the only black family on his block.

Investigators believe the shootings were racially motivated.

Gleason’s new attorney, Ashly Earl, made his first appearance in the case Thursday and requested the doctor examination. Gleason’s former attorney, Chris Alexander, was suspended by the state Supreme Court on Jan. 14 after being arrested in December and accused of fraudulently filing court documents.

Gleason’s April 27 trial date was canceled and instead the sanity hearing will be held on that day. A new trial date has not been set.

Prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty after speaking with Smart’s family. If convicted, Gleason faces life in prison.

Earl declined to comment after Thursday’s court appearance.

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